Journal of Counseling Research and Practice


A qualitative research design was used to listen to the experiences of women who engaged in science fiction fandom activities through online social media and how these experiences impacted their psychological well-being. The study targeted a specific population of science fiction fandom users who engaged in social media activities for at least one hour per week and had done so for at least one year. The sample consisted of 12 participants. Thematic analysis was used with the qualitative software program ATLAS.ti to analyze, code, and categorize data obtained via the transcripts. Five themes appeared from the data: nonjudgmental fandom culture, positive impact on personal relationships, mental health-related experiences, fandom as coping, and impact of negative experiences. Results showed that women who engaged in fandom activity were drawn to those communities due to the nonjudgmental nature of that fandom culture and the relationships that they formed. All participants felt their participation positively affected their psychological well-being and actively used it as an emotional coping skill. Future research could focus on a quantitative study to better understand how women utilize science fiction fandom for social interaction and coping. This insight may aid in generalizability to the broader comprehension of fandom engagement’s perceived effect on psychological well-being. Additionally, looking at computer-mediated versus face-to-face communication to include a third category combing the methods may benefit counselors in better understanding the world of their clients.

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