Exploring the challenges for the care network of providing therapeutic support for unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors

Lawrence, Hayley (2021) Exploring the challenges for the care network of providing therapeutic support for unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust/University of East London. Full text available

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Abstract

Complexities limiting therapeutic engagement with unaccompanied minors observed in one CAMHS team, prompted a qualitative and explorative study into how these young people’s needs were attended to by their care networks. An overarching Psychoanalytic framework and the use of Thematic Analysis was applied to data collected from audio recorded group discussions held over six weeks with foster carers, and from semi-structed interviews with a variety of professionals who have had experience of working with unaccompanied minors. The research question was to look at what the challenges were for these two groups in the care network with the aim to highlight the complexities and difficulties within these relationships, whilst at the same time enhancing understanding of the intricacies of their interactions, including positive experiences. Findings from the foster carer group suggested they often took a “Detective Mother” stance, attempting to understand and make connections when faced with multiple uncertainties and unknowns. However, this instigated fear, mistrust, and caution of what might be internalised or enlivened within relationships resulting in the need for distance. Professionals emphasised their struggles with time pressures and the feeling of ‘trying to get it right’ in terms of provision offered and their communication, which ultimately ignited feelings of guilt and shame. The flight to normalise behaviours and position themselves in the shoes of the ‘other’ dulled down the ambiguity and trauma they often faced. Overall, these findings highlighted that one of the greatest challenges was identifying and remaining in touch with a young person’s needs when there were significant traumas and multiple layers of deprivation to contend with. In addition, difference and diversity had an impact upon the ability and availability to offer care which it is argued became laced with unconscious animosity and institutional racism which was perpetuated within the system. It concludes care networks would benefit from detailed and specific training, as well as safe, nonjudgemental spaces to engage in conversations about the challenges and successes of supporting unaccompanied minors. The study also suggests that a consideration of unconscious biases and racism, including those at a societal and political level as well as how trauma becomes enlivened within relationships can be advantageous in understanding how therapeutic engagement can be obstructed and obfuscated.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and the University of East London for the degree of Professional Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Trauma, Counter Transference, International Racism, Deprivation
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Child Psychotherapy
Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adolescents - Psychotherapy
Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adoption & Fostering- Psychology
Groups & Organisations > Racial/Cultural Groups
Groups & Organisations > Refugees - Psychology
Groups & Organisations > Refugees - Social Welfare
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
Research
URI: http://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2482

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