Qualitative research into mothers' experiences of receiving early intervention for their children's difficulties
Previous research has shown that negative experiences, such as abuse and neglect, early in infants' lives can have a long-term detrimental impact on their mental health and development. A number of early intervention programmes and initiatives have recently been implemented by the government in order to try to prevent such problems. The first chapter of this thesis provides a review of the findings of current research into early intervention programmes, in terms of the reported benefits to infant mental health. The review identifies four areas of impact: social development, behaviour, cognitive development and the parent-child relationship. There is critical consideration of the research in each area, and direction suggested for programme designers and future researchers. The second chapter reports a research study using interpretative phenomenological analysis to explore mothers' experiences of their relationships with community health professionals who were providing early intervention for their children's difficulties. The study provides a unique insight into mothers' perceptions of the process of seeking help and aspects of the therapeutic relationship that they consider important. The third chapter details a research study using a deductive qualitative methodology to analyse mothers' reports of health visitors' use of psychological theories underpinning an early intervention programme (the Solihull Approach). The findings reveal variations in the reporting of the different theories. Possible reasons for these variations are discussed. Ideas considered are relevant to professionals who provide inter-disciplinary training, and to future researchers studying clients' experiences of psychological approaches. The fourth chapter is a reflective paper that discusses further methodological issues, the process of conducting the thesis, and the resulting changes to the main researcher's professional practice.