‘It’s a bumpy road, we just need to manage the bumps’. A grounded theory study exploring the meaning and process of recovery within a forensic learning disabilities population from the perspectives of staff.

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Background: The concept of recovery has its origins in the movement from institutionalisation to community-based care. Several studies in the forensic mental health field have explored themes associated with recovery and have revealed challenges. However, little is known about the meaning of recovery within the Forensic Learning Disability (LD) field.

Method: A constructivist grounded theory approach was used, focusing on the iterative process of data collection and analysis. A theoretical framework was developed, of staff perspectives of the meaning and process of recovery within the Forensic LD field. A sample of eight members of staff were interviewed following theoretical sampling. Initial, focused, and theoretical coding, in addition to constant comparative analysis, were utilised to build the end theory.

Findings: The end theory demonstrated a range of factors and challenges that are linked with recovery. The process of recovery is captured in seven categories inspired by participants’ quotes. The categories were: A long road: The impact of institutionalisation; Risk management difficulties: ‘We’ve always had this paternalistic view’; Going ahead: Effective risk management; ‘The dead end in the road’: Systemic barriers; ‘Taking the lead in their own journey’: Empowerment; Moving forward: The progress we see and ‘Bypassing the bumps’.

Conclusion: This study is the first to provide a theoretical model on the meaning and process of recovery within the forensic LD field. Some recommendations and clinical implications are discussed.
Date of Award2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorAsh Summers (Supervisor) & Michelle Small (Supervisor)

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