Reflexivity in Narrative Research: Accessing Meaning Through the Participant-Researcher Relationship

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The purpose of this article is to provide an example of a study in which reflexivity served as a secondary but integral data source and became the experiential context from which meaningful findings emerged. I will briefly describe the purpose and methodology of the project, a phenomenological narrative study in which I interviewed 7 women previously diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) about their therapy relationship experiences (Goldstein, 2014). A description of my reflexive process, including planned and unplanned activities, is provided along with a discussion of the challenges associated with engaging and communicating reflexive methods. My experience of 3 participants along with the intersubjective reflections (Finlay, 2002) that unfolded during the interviews and in later analysis, are used to demonstrate the transformative quality of the reflexive material and how the cocreated relationships contextualized the content of the narratives with a shared, lived experience. It is argued that the reflexive process supported the emergence of findings that more usefully captured the dyadic nature of the interpersonal tensions that develop between individuals placed in this diagnostic group and their therapists.

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