‘Undetermined exiles’: a phenomenological exploration of transition out of Army life

Ross, Alistair James (2020) ‘Undetermined exiles’: a phenomenological exploration of transition out of Army life. DProf thesis, Middlesex University / New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling. [Thesis]

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Abstract

What is it like for a soldier to leave the British Army? Can psychotherapy, and specifically existential psychotherapy, help in the transition process? These have become increasingly important questions since the Strategic Defence and Security Review (2010) set a government target of 7,000 British Army redundancies to be made by 2015. Psychological research with regards to the military is often pathological, focussing on trauma, employment or homelessness issues, rather than transition itself. In an attempt to address this gap, this thesis employs phenomenology to explore the transition experiences of eight former soldiers who left the British Army within the last ten years. Findings show that transition brings a sense of exile from the military and alienation in civilian life, leading to loss of the identity, belonging and certainty that military life provided. Participants were determined to make a success of transition but, without a clear identity, meaning or purpose in civilian life, struggled to apply this determination. This was the case for all the participants, regardless of their reasons for, and experiences of, leaving the Army. The more self-aware participants were of their losses and anxieties in transition, the more adaptable they were to civilian life and the better they could establish new meaning and purpose to channel their determination into. However, no participant identified as fully transitioned or believed they ever would be. Instead, transition was felt to be an ongoing process of grieving, adapting and evolving identity. This study introduces the term ‘transitioner’ to capture the process of being in between soldiers and civilians in transition while belonging to neither. Existential philosophy and psychotherapy can help to validate and empower transitioning soldiers to understand their place in transition and find new meaning and purpose in their civilian lives.

Item Type: Thesis (DProf)
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC)
Item ID: 30445
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2021 10:04
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 16:49
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/30445

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