Ethical Dilemmas of a Clinician/Researcher interviewing Women who Have Grown Up in a Family Where There Was Domestic Violence


  • Clarissa Sammut Scerri University of Malta
  • Angela Abela University of Malta
  • Arlene Vetere University of Surrey


This paper attempts to illuminate some of the ethical dilemmas of a clinician/researcher interviewing women about a sensitive topic- their experience of having witnessed domestic violence in the family they grew up in, as part of a grounded theory study. Vignettes are presented to illustrate the self-reflexive process of the researcher and how she understood the effects of the interview process on her and the participants. The authors argue that doing in-depth qualitative research interviewing is an intervention in the life of the participants, especially, but not only, when the researchers are clinically-trained. However, this clinical training may also be an important resource from which to draw from, to act ethically and understand some of the complexity of the interaction between researcher and participants.

Author Biographies

Clarissa Sammut Scerri, University of Malta

Assistant Lecturer and PhD candidate, MPsy Counselling Psychology Course Coordinator, Department of Psychology

Angela Abela, University of Malta

Associate Professor and Director Centre for Family Studies

Arlene Vetere, University of Surrey

Professor and Deputy Programme Director Department of Psychology






Special Issue: Articles