The role of clinical psychology for homeless people.
Recent research has suggested that mental health problems are over-represented in the
homeless population. Currently mental health services are under-utilised by this group in
proportion to need. It is often assumed that psychological intervention is unlikely to be
helpful with a client group where basic needs are often not met.
The Transtheoretical Model of Change is used as a framework to describe the complex,
dynamic processes that are likely to impact on a homeless person with mental health
problems' ability to seek help for their mental health difficulties. This model is also applied
to services. The empirical evidence for Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as a help or hindrance
to help-seeking behaviour is examined. This study asked homeless people to identify their
own needs and explored current working practices of the few dinical psychologists who
work with them directly.
Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used to explore the role for dinical
psychology for homeless people. A pilot study was conducted. In the main study, nine men
from two day centres/night shelters (one rural and one inner city) were recruited
opportunistically. Five clinical psychologists working within the homelessness field were
Psychopathology of the homeless partiCipants was measured using the GHQ-12 and
BPRS. Within a user-designed approach a semi-structured interview was developed for the main study of from the pilot study.
The results indicated that this sample of homeless people with significant mental health
problems identified a need for clinical psychology intervention and this was supported by
the views of the clinical psychologists whom already worked in the field. Implications in
terms of the level and type of clinical psychology interventions best suited to working with
this client group are discussed.
This study is timely, and the first in the UK to explore the role of clinical psychology for