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Title: Clinical psychologists' constructions of their work with children
Author: Kovacova, Katarina
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2013
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This study adopts a discursive psychological approach to an analysis of interviews with nine clinical psychologists on the subject of their work with children in NHS-based Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. The objective of the study was to explore how child clinical psychologists talk about their work, with a particular focus on the discursive and interactional aspects of the discourse, and participants’ orienting to, and providing justifications for, the morally dubious status of the various practices that they described in their talk. The analysis delineates complex rhetorical strategies of accountability management in talk about practices depicted as potentially problematic. These included: (1) the ‘severe end’ rhetorical device that functioned to warrant the use of medication; (2) the minimisation strategy that was used to manage diagnostic problems by constructing diagnoses in a minimal or safer manner; (3) normalisation techniques which served to downplay and re-define contested practices as less problematic or indeed as positive; (4) doing ‘being democratic’ that constructed troubling practice as democratic; (5) employing ‘maxims of practical politics’ that seemed to legitimise contested practices by invoking liberal and pragmatic arguments; and (6) the discursive move of redirecting accountability to service users or the institution. The discursive analysis of the extended accounts also demonstrated how participants oriented to notions of the moral nature of their practice and their morally adequate personal and professional identities. The results of this study indicate that clinical psychologists face a moral quandary, suggesting that perhaps clinical psychology practice, particularly with children whose distress or behaviour is conceptualised as mental illness, entails a constant grappling with moral issues. Implications for clinical practice are discussed in light of the analysis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral