Clinical Psychologists' Narratives of Relatedness within a Multi-Disciplinary Team Context
The focus of this study was to explore how Clinical Psychologists narrate their experience of relatedness within a multi-disciplinary team. Mental health services in the UK are facing increased financial pressure and a necessity for all professionals to justify their role. In this context value often appears to be placed on the cheapest way of providing individual, independent care for clients rather than on the relational value of job satisfaction, joint working and therapeutic relationships. The aim of this study was to explore the experience of Clinical Psychologists and through this contribute to thinking around collaborative and interdisciplinary working. This study was guided by eight individual semi-structured interviews which were conducted with Clinical Psychologists who work in Multi-Disciplinary working age adult Community Mental Health Teams and explored using Narrative Analysis. The participants consisted of seven females and one male who had been qualified between three and fifteen years and were working at various pay bands between 7 and 8c. Four relational narratives were found. These were connections to the self of the psychologist, connections to clients, connections with colleagues and connections with the system. The first relational aspect was how the Clinical Psychologists in this study storied their ability to remain connected to their own humanity and their personal values within the context of their Multi-Disciplinary Teams. The second level involved the stories about relationships and connections with clients, particularly thinking about the perceived impact and consequences of the other relational levels for the clients and their safety. The third relational aspect was the stories that Clinical Psychologists told about their sense of relatedness to their colleagues within their teams and the importance of having time available for this. Finally, the fourth level, which was evident within all the other relationships, was of the impact of the wider system and context. These stories emerged from the analysis process with the understanding that the interviews were co-constructed and represented multiple voices. This study confirmed that despite a history of both research and legislation highlighting the benefits and values of inter-professional working and compassion the reality remains elusive. To achieve these aims there needs to be a shift in focus from short-term planning evaluating efficiency in relation only to perceived financial value, to thinking more widely and long-term about relational value. There is a need for investment and recognition of the aspects of team working that are less easy to quantify financially. Further research could explore the experience of other professional groups within CMHTs, and other MDTs, and of clients. This would give a voice to individuals who did not have an explicit voice in this research.