Disabled people and social estrangement: facilitating connection in counselling
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In this thesis I explore why disabled people often feel socially estranged and how this issue might be worked with in counselling. Disability has a very low profile in the counselling literature and research in this field is often conducted from a counsellors’ perspective. As a disabled person myself, I have based my research on a reflexive narrative approach that draws on interviews with disabled people who have been clients in counselling. From a person-centred perspective, I understand the impact of estrangement on the self-concept and interpersonal relationships in terms of societal conditions of worth. Counselling is considered by some writers in the field of Disability Studies to be an oppressive pursuit. Others who align themselves with a feminist approach argue that the psycho-emotional and lived experience of disability should not be excluded in research. I draw on these writings as well as on participants’ experiences to critique the theory and practice of counselling disabled people. Finally, I formulate a framework for understanding disability in counselling and offer some recommendations for practice.