A qualitative study investigating the potential for collaborative relationships between clinical psychologists and self-help groups in the field of mental health, and comparing clinical psychologists' views about self-help groups with self-help group members' views about the professional care system

Whiting, Susan (1996). A qualitative study investigating the potential for collaborative relationships between clinical psychologists and self-help groups in the field of mental health, and comparing clinical psychologists' views about self-help groups with self-help group members' views about the professional care system. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000e135

Abstract

This study explores the potential for collaborative relationships between clinical psychologists and self-help group members in the field of mental health, comparing the views of each group in relation to the other and their preferred relationships. The participant group comprised: (a) 16 clinical psychologists working in adult mental health services, twelve with previous contact with self-help groups and four without any previous contact and (b) fourteen self-help group members from various self-help groups for adults experiencing personal or emotional difficulties. Face to face interviews were conducted using semi-structured interview schedules. These were designed for each group to understand in-depth their views in relation to the other and about entering into collaborative relationships. Grounded theory and thematic analysis were used to analyse the interviews. Both groups perceived benefits from a collaboration but envisaged problematic relationships. Tension emerged as a major issue and was expressed in various ways. Three major dimensions of tension were similarity versus difference, power versus equality and resources versus deprivation. Managing the resulting tensions poses threats for both groups in collaborative relationships, particularly to their identity. Findings suggest that both groups need to find ways of managing their genuine differences without introducing threats into the relationship or preventing the full potential of collaborative relationships from being realised. The study's findings are critically evaluated and directions for future research in the field are discussed. Implications for clinical practice are addressed.

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