Focus Groups as Transformative Spiritual Encounters

Sharon Moloney

Abstract


Focus groups are a valuable method for exploring the construction and negotiation of meanings. In her doctoral research the author explored how Australian women’s experiences of menstruation, birth, and spirituality are invested with meaning and how that meaning influences and shapes those experiences. The focus group has been described as a potentially liminal space, which enables the discussion of taboo subjects by breaking the ice and giving people permission to comment. In addition, she discovered that the groups could be occasions of empowerment and transformation for both participants and researcher. In a way that far exceeded her expectations, the group format was ideally suited to feminist research and the organic inquiry methodology she used. Some groups became deeply spiritual encounters that were nourishing and transformative for all. This article explores how focus groups can be vehicles of spiritual transformation, examining one group in particular to highlight the points raised.

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