Parent-Trainee Experiences of Child and Mental Health Training: an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
George, Amanda Elizabeth
Aims: Research examining the process of clinical psychology training has essentially focused on the outsider perspective and given little consideration of the trainee’s lived experience. Using qualitative methodology this project aims to listen and privilege personal narratives of individuals who occupy the role of trainee clinical psychologist and parent simultaneously during CAMHS training (i.e. placement and associated teaching) in order to increase awareness of the challenges and existing resources of this population. Method: Six parent-trainees were interviewed using semi-structured interviews. Transcripts were individually analysed using methodology drawn from Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA; Smith, 1996a) to identify emergent themes and complete cross-case analysis. Results: This study demonstrates how the occupancy of a parental role during Child and Adolescent Mental Health training has significant implications for individual trainees within both their professional and parental role. The three main themes emerging from the study are: i) A changed Identity: seeing and being seen in a different light ii) A journey from dependency towards autonomy and iii). Cutting the cord doesn’t destroy the bond: The inseparable nature of the parental and professional self. Implications: This study highlights the significant impact that the occupancy of a parental role may have in the experience of a trainee clinical psychologist’s CAMHS training, and how such findings may have been overlooked in the available literature base. Findings suggest that to optimise professional and personal wellbeing and minimise potential for compromised professional conduct the impact of the relationship between parent-trainees’ personal and professional self needs to be widely recognised by individual parent-trainees, training providers and the wider context of clinical psychology. The results from this study may also have wider implications for the ethical practice of those occupying any dual role in the training context as well as the broader field of therapeutic work.