The purpose of this paper, a qualitative study, is to explore service users’ experiences of attending clinical psychology within a public community adult mental health service.
Six individuals who had completed at least 16 sessions of psychotherapy participated in semi-structured interviews. Data were transcribed and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.
The results showed the following overarching domains: the relationship and its impacts, structure and focus, and participant factors – timing/readiness. The importance of the use of language was also identified. Participants appeared to value a sense of humanity within the relationship. Interestingly, the personal impact of therapy as perceived by the participants was not focussed on symptom reduction, but on broader changes. The results are discussed in relation to the relevant literature.
Suggested principles for practice include maintaining attentiveness to relational factors, to client factors such as readiness for change and to the use of structure and flexibility. The use of recovery focussed and alliance measures are recommended.
For clinical psychologists providing psychotherapy within the public system, there are valuable lessons we can learn from asking the service users directly about their experiences, in terms of focussing on the human element of the relationship, and striking a balance between professionalism and humanity.
Beattie, D., Murphy, S., Burke, J., O’Connor, H. and Jamieson, S. (2019), "Service user experiences of clinical psychology within an adult mental health service: an IPA study", Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 171-182. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHRJ-02-2018-0005
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