What can be learned from an understanding of the lived experience of treatment journeys into psychotherapy through interviews with adolescents and their carers?

Bowden-Howl, Jonathan (2020) What can be learned from an understanding of the lived experience of treatment journeys into psychotherapy through interviews with adolescents and their carers? Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust/University of Essex. Full text available

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Exploring young people and families’ lived experiences prior to encountering a child psychotherapist in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) is a scarce area of research. Previous studies have sought to explore specific characteristics in lived experiences rather than a naturalistic phenomenological view. Alongside this, the challenges faced by NHS CAMHS services in the current socio-economic climate include underfunding and a scarcity of resources, which then result in effects such as long waiting times and increased entry criteria for services. The public are likely to view CAMHS negatively and is exacerbated by the media depicting CAMHS as a ‘failing service’, unable to effectively meet the needs of the population they serve; young people struggling with their mental health. This study explored the lived experiences of three young people and three parental figures prior to their contact with a child psychotherapist within CAMHS. Each participant took part in a single semi-structured interview which was then analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to gather pertinent themes. The themes were grouped into two data sets; parental figures and young people. The IPA highlighted predominantly negative experiences in all participants regardless of data set. The experiences conveyed were characterised by some hopeful connections, but mainly involved persistent struggle and psychological deterioration which resulted in the participants using fractious and compartmentalised ways of relating in order to survive. All participants found themselves inevitably reaching a crisis point in their functioning. The discussion utilised various psychoanalytic theories in order to further highlight the negative and fractious ways of relating the participants employed. Further to this, it could be understood that the participants entered a ‘crisis state of mind’, where disturbances are not recognised as such until they reach crisis point. This is heavily influenced by current socio-economic factors and the impact that this has on NHS provision. Broader research is required to more conclusively identify the individual characteristics that may influence young people’s lived experience and help-seeking.

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 Essex for the degree of Professional Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, University of Essex
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adolescents - Psychotherapy
Research, Tests, Assessments > Psychotherapy Research
Research, Tests, Assessments > Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services
URI: https://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/2376

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