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Professional parental status disclosure in intensive family intervention work

Philip John Archard (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, Leicester, UK)

Journal of Children's Services

ISSN: 1746-6660

Article publication date: 4 February 2021

Issue publication date: 6 July 2021




This paper is concerned with what intensive family intervention professionals reveal to the parents with whom they work about whether they themselves are parents or not, as a form of professional self-disclosure in child welfare work. This paper also addresses the act of lying in professional self-disclosure.


The paper draws on material from a series of narrative interviews completed with practitioners from one family intervention programme in an English local authority as part of a study looking at how children’s services professionals experience the suffering of parents. The study was based on a psychoanalytically informed methodological approach, which is represented in the analysis provided in the paper.


The overall team ethos regarding parental status disclosure is considered briefly first then two participants’ accounts are explored in depth. These involved, what can be considered as, questionable or unorthodox stances regarding parental status disclosure (and self-disclosure more generally). The exploration illustrates the role that practitioners’ personal lives and histories can play in influencing how the act of professional parental status disclosure is experienced and how particular positions are invested in regarding the role of self-disclosure in working relationships with parents.


Child welfare and family intervention professionals are often asked personal questions by the parents and carers they work with, including questions about whether they are a parent or not. These questions can be difficult to answer and there is a need for dedicated empirical analysis into the ways in which professionals experience, think about and respond to them and what they disclose about themselves when working with families.



Research Councils UK.Economic and Social Research Council. Studentship ref: 1013476.


Archard, P.J. (2021), "Professional parental status disclosure in intensive family intervention work", Journal of Children's Services, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 89-103.



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