Approximately 20 per cent of Australian children live with a parent who experiences mental illness. These children have poorer health and psychosocial outcomes than their peers. While family-focused practice (FFP) can improve these outcomes, family-focused service provision is inconsistent. The purpose of this paper is to understand clinicians’ experiences of FFP and associated workplace factors.
In-depth interviews were conducted with ten community mental health clinicians. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
A global theme of “navigating rocky terrain” captured clinicians’ experiences of working with families. The rocky terrain encompassed both family complexity and workplace barriers to FFP. Clinicians navigated this terrain by using multiple strategies to support families, working in partnership with families and other clinicians and services, and drawing on personal resources. Interactive approaches to enhancing knowledge and skills were preferred over paper-based information. While an organisation-wide approach to support FFP was beneficial, clinicians continued to feel challenged in implementing FFP.
Working with families in which parents experience mental illness is affected by systemic issues at the family and organisational levels. Systemic approaches to both delivering and supporting this work are required. Partnership working and organisation-wide capacity building strategies emphasising interactive approaches to learning appear to have positive effects.
This study explores the challenges of FFP in a real-world multidisciplinary context where there has been a systemic approach to enabling this work. It highlights the challenges clinicians face in family-focused practice in spite of substantial organisational supports and suggests some approaches that might be effective. This is a topic which has received minimal attention in the literature.
Leenman, G. and Arblaster, K. (2020), "Navigating rocky terrain: a thematic analysis of mental health clinician experiences of family-focused practice", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 71-83. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMHTEP-04-2019-0022Download as .RIS
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited