Main aim of this project is to gain information from family members and counsellors regarding the helpful and unhelpful elements of therapeutic interventions for ambiguous loss in the situation of having a missing loved one.
Aims of study and rationale
Missing people is a global phenomenon, mainly researched relating to war or disaster. Yet across the world people out with war and disaster zones disappear from their everyday lives with great regularity. UK police receive a call about a missing person almost every 90 seconds (NCA, 2017). Seventy-nine percent will be found within 24 hours, however many are not discovered so quickly (NCA 2017). Henderson and Henderson (1998) estimate 12 family members and friends will be directly impacted when a loved one is missing. Boss (1999) posits families of missing people will find this a psychologically more challenging time than people facing other types of loss. She refers to this type of loss as ambiguous loss – a loss that remains uncertain. Holmes (2008) suggests the agony of grief endured by families with missing loved ones impacts emotional well-being, causing sleeplessness, raised blood pressure and deteriorating ill health. Lenferink, de Keijser, Wessel and de Boelen (2019) have recently designed a specific intervention aimed at helping the relatives of long-term missing people. The primary aim of this study is to explore family members’ experiences of reaching out for and receiving therapeutic and/or medical help while suffering the psychological impacts of ambiguous loss. Secondly the study aims to explore the experiences of counsellors, who work with this client group. The resultant research will likely highlight helpful and unhelpful therapeutic experiences for people living with ambiguous loss. The impact of this research could have far reaching consequences. Firstly, as a useful resource for non-specialist or inexperienced counsellors to access when working with a new client who has a missing loved one. Secondly, as researchers try to tailor interventions specifically for this client group, it would be a useful resource for anyone considering building a specific intervention for family members with ambiguous loss.
We will be working with the charity Missing People. They will operate in an advisory capacity and as a supply chain for participants; both family members suffering ambiguous loss and counsellors working with that client group.
Study 2: Six to eight qualified counsellors who have experience of working with families of missing loved ones. Participants will be given an information sheet prior to volunteering, explaining the online interviews conducted via Teams will remain anonymous. Only the audio component of the interview will be recorded. Transcripts will be anonymised by using false names. Participants will be further advised the typed interviews will be saved on a secure computer drive and be used in reports and papers that will be written about the research in order to educate others and drive changes in policy and practice. From this initial letter people who wish to participate will contact the researcher via email: firstname.lastname@example.org