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Title: A grounded theory study of educational psychologists' mental health casework in schools
Author: Zafeiriou, Maria Evrydiki
ISNI:       0000 0004 6494 3358
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2017
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Recent governmental policies in the UK have been focusing on the promotion of mental health in children and young people and mental health provision in school has now become a government priority (DfE, 2016; DH, 2014). In these government initiatives, the role of educational psychologists (EPs) as external professionals that can support students’ mental health has been frequently underrepresented and relatively limited to the delivery of therapeutic interventions (AEP, 2017). Existing research in mental health in educational psychology appears to focus on evaluations of therapeutic interventions. This study aims to extend the educational psychology evidence base and explain EPs’ successful mental health casework. It aims to inform future educational psychology practice and improve mental health outcomes for children and young people. The current study is qualitative and adopts a constructivist epistemology with elements of the transformative paradigm. The study uses a constructivist grounded theory methodology (Charmaz, 2014) and data was gathered through semi-structured interviewing with five educational psychologist participants of a single local authority. Data gathering and analysis followed the steps suggested by Charmaz (2014). The outcomes of the data analysis were theoretically sensitised based on literature from attachment theory in psychotherapy, person-centred counselling, self-determination theory, solution-focused approaches and consultation. The constructed grounded theory focuses on EPs’ direct work with school staff and parents and suggests that EPs use two sets of interacting processes in their work with adults. One relates to adults’ engagement in cognitively demanding problem solving activities that aim to enable them to support the needs of the child by challenging their perceptions, teaching them new skills and leading them to cognitive and behavioural change. The other set of processes aims at the development of a secure attachment base within the involvement that offers emotional support and comfort when the adults feel overwhelmed by the challenging processes involved. The grounded theory suggests a theoretical framework for educational psychology practice and implications for professional practice and future policy are discussed alongside limitations and suggestions for future research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.App.Ed.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology ; LB1050 Educational psychology