Psychological Therapy Following Acquired Brain Injury
: A Thematic Analysis of Client Experiences and Helpful and Unhelpful Aspects

Student thesis: PsychD


Available research suggests that 61% of individuals who survive an acquired brain injury (ABI) will experience psychological difficulties one-year post injury. While a range of psychological models of therapy are used to treat individuals with psychological difficulties post-ABI, their use with this population remains under researched. In particular, there is a paucity of research exploring the perspective of clients with ABI on their experiences of psychology therapy. While multiple authors have put forward suggestions based on their clinical experience of how to deliver psychological therapies to this population, these have predominantly been based on clinical experience and it has therefore remained unclear to what extent these recommendations are experienced as helpful by clients with an ABI. The aim of the study was therefore to explore clients’ experiences of psychological therapy following an ABI, and in particular to investigate what aspects of psychological therapy adults with an acquired brain injury find most helpful and unhelpful. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine participants. Reflexive thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. The participants reported finding it helpful to have their sessions adapted in ways that accommodated their individual needs, and for some this included the involvement of a family member. The participants also identified that it was helpful when they felt accepted, understood, and validated in their unique experience of an ABI and that this approach also contributed to their increased self acceptance. The findings of the present study contribute to practice by indicating ways therapists and services can most helpfully adapt and deliver services to suit the needs of adults with brain injuries seeking psychological therapy based on the client perspective.
Date of Award11 Apr 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorMark Donati (Director of Studies) & Rachel Darnley-Smith (Co-Supervisor)


  • Brain injury
  • acquired brain injury
  • psychological therapy
  • reflexive thematic analysis

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