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Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

On-line version ISSN 1445-7377
Print version ISSN 2079-7222

Indo-Pac. j. phenomenol. (Online) vol.12 n.2 Grahamstown Jul. 2012 

'Writing the pain': Engaging first-person phenomenological accounts



Linda Finlay




One way to teach or communicate embodied-relational existential understanding is to encourage the writing and reading of first person autobiographical phenomenological accounts. After briefly reviewing the field of first person phenomenological accounts, I offer my own example - one that uses a narrative-poetic form. I share my lived experience of coping with pain and hope to show how rich poetic phenomenological prose may facilitate lived understandings in others (be they our students, clients or colleagues). I argue that first person accounts can powerfully evoke lived experience, especially where they focus on existential issues, use personal-reflexive and/or relational-dialogal forms, and draw on the arts.



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About the Author



Dr Finlay currently practices as an integrative-existential psychotherapist but qualified originally as an occupational therapist. Additionally, she teaches psychology and writes educational materials for the Open University (UK). She also offers mentorship and training on the use of qualitative research methodology. Linda's research interests include working with trauma and researching the lived experience of disability using phenomenological approaches that embrace hermeneutic, reflexive and relational forms.

Dr Finlay has published widely. Her books include Reflexivity: A practical guide for researchers in Health and Social Sciences (edited with B. Gough); Qualitative Research for Health Professionals (edited with C. Ballinger, Wiley Publishers, 2006); Relational-Centred Research for Psychotherapists (with K. Evans, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009); and Phenomenology for Therapists (Wiley, 2011). E-mail address:

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