Lived Experiences of Legal Guardians of Adolescents Who Deliberate Self-Harm

Published: in Scientific Research, an Academic Publisher (2018); 5:12

DOI: 10.4236/oalib.1105098

Authors: Mr. Roberto Galea, Dr. Michael Galea

Objectives: To explore and understand the lived experiences of the legal guardians of adolescents who engaged in Deliberate Self-Harm while investigating the need for further education and support.

Method: Four participants and one pilot study were purposively sampled from the Child Guidance Unit in Malta— all recruited participants were the biological mothers of self-harming adolescents. Each participant was interviewed twice. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to collect the participants’ experiences and subjective perspectives, and they were all digitally recorded. All necessary ethical authorisations were collected.

Sample: Participants were parents of adolescents who deliberately self-harmed and were receiving care at the Child Guidance Unit. None of the mothers were living with the adolescents’ biological father.

Results: The super-ordinate themes identified were: Guardian’s depths of despair, Guardians weathering the storm and Hope in the midst of despair. Themes flowed from the discovery of Deliberate Self-Harm and initial reactions to the hopes and skills developed to deal with their respective circumstances.

Conclusion: The need to develop better understanding of the traumatisation and difficult scenarios experienced by legal guardians was identified while further support, education and management of Deliberate Self-Harm have been identified. Limited qualitative research exists that has investigated the phenomenon of DSH, especially from the legal guardians’ perspective. This research hopefully would assist involved legal guardians how to identify such phenomenon, how to educate themselves about it, and manage it successfully. 

Key words: Legal Guardians, Lived Experiences, Parents, Hermeneutics, Adolescents, Deliberate Self-Harm