Experiences: How it is defined and understood by children and adolescents in India
Background: The construct of experience has very little understanding especially from the perspective of children and adolescents. This is despite the fact that the word ‘experience’ is widely used in research and clinical practice. The aim of the study was to understand how children and adolescents conceptualize the term experience, the various types of experiences of significance to them and how these experiences are processed.
Method: For this purpose, focus group discussions and semi structured interviews were carried out. The sample of the study comprised of 110 school going children and adolescents from Bangalore city using purposive sampling method. There was equal representation in terms of gender, age and socio-economic backgrounds.
Results: The findings of the focus group discussions in the study contribute to defining ‘experiences’ from how the participants of the study understand it. It also identifies the core themes of experiences under the broad domains of positive and negative experiences. The core themes of experiences were experiences in family context, experiences with peer relations, school related experiences and experiences of abuse.
Conclusions: The semi structured interviews contribute to a deeper understanding of how an experience is processed and what are the important themes related to processing of an experience. The clinical and research implications of these findings have been discussed.