Harrington, Val (University of Wolverhampton, 2011-02)
Some seven percent of children in the general population are affected by Specific Language Impairment and/or Pragmatic Language Impairment with numerous cases undiagnosed. It is known that difficulty in communication affects psychosocial functioning and is likely to be a source of mental distress but the data on people’s access to and benefit from psychological intervention are limited. There is also limited understanding of psychologists’ capacity to meet these clients’ needs although their problems continue into adulthood. This research questions the population of counselling and clinical psychologists about their knowledge and experience of these disorders using an electronic questionnaire. Qualitative methods were then adopted with three participants with SLI/PLI and four psychologist practitioners familiar with such clients; this involved semi-structured interviews analysed using IPA and TA respectively. The purpose was to interpret and develop the clients' lived experiences into themes which were then used to look for possible connecting themes in the psychologists’ transcripts. This process was termed "interconnection" and was intended to reveal the coincidence and convergence of the two sides of the client/psychologist dyad. Results showed that whereas findings demonstrated the young men possessed a spectrum of coping and defence strategies as constituent parts of resilience, including self-esteem, self-identity and self-efficacy, the psychologists did not see the client as a congruent whole, addressing either their impairment or their mental health problem. Client resiliencies were not used in therapy and psychosocial difficulties were not recognised as a focus of distress although they did endeavour to modify their therapeutic approaches. Finally, consideration is given to whether the research aim is met, the implications for counselling psychology and possible future research. It is proposed that this methodology of interconnection has the potential to provide a novel approach to inform any future research and service development for this and other client groups in the way it takes patients/clients into account and connects them with professional working.
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