A qualitative exploration of Child Clinical Psychologists' understanding of user involvement

Gemma Dexter*, Michael Larkin, Craig Newnes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


'Service User Involvement' is a key directive for mental health services. This is thought to be especially complex in child services-despite evidence that it can be achieved-because of the need to use developmentally-appropriate tools. Children are in a multi-faceted position of disempowerment when they enter mental health services; attempts to involve them in these services are entangled with intricate power issues. To explore these issues, eight Clinical Psychologists who work with children were interviewed about their views and experiences of User Involvement. Their accounts were analysed by drawing on Foucauldian Discourse Analysis. The resulting account demonstrates how children are consistently positioned as both vulnerable and powerless (in contrast to parents and professionals). This has the effect of rendering them as less-than-ideal candidates for involvement in service evaluation and planning, in a context where parents may seem to offer a more straightforward option to professionals, and where those professionals see themselves as having to operate within certain constraints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-265
Number of pages20
JournalClinical child psychology and psychiatry
Issue number2
Early online date6 Jul 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2012


  • Child
  • discourse analysis
  • power
  • psychology
  • user involvement


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