A grounded theory study of psychologists’ consideration of their clients’ parenthood

PhD Thesis

Myllari, L. 2011. A grounded theory study of psychologists’ consideration of their clients’ parenthood. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Department of Applied Psychology
AuthorsMyllari, L.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDClinPsychol

Section A provides an overview of the impact of parental mental health difficulties on the person’s family. The current health policies and clinical guidelines in relation to family-inclusive care are discussed, along with research exploring service users’ families' views and experiences of adult mental health services. Studies investigating mental health professionals’ family-inclusive care practices are critically reviewed, followed by a consideration of how psychological theories conceptualise parenthood. The paper concludes by identifying areas for future research in this field.
Section B is an empirical paper. Background. Potential negative outcomes for children who grow up with a parent suffering from mental illness are well-documented, including attachment difficulties and later mental health problems. However, research to date has not investigated how therapists conceptualise their clients’ parenthood, with the aim to protect the future mental health of the clients’ children.
Aims. To explore how parenthood is considered in therapies provided by psychologists in adult mental health services.
Method. In-depth interviews were carried out with psychologists working in adult mental health services in the UK. Thirteen psychologists were interviewed, and the data were analysed using grounded theory.
Results. A preliminary model was generated, which comprised of five categories: drivers, therapist factors, psychological theorising, client variables, and risks. The inter-relations between these categories are complex, and the degree of psychologists’ consideration of their clients’ parenthood is based on the nature of such overlaps.
Conclusions. Psychologists are skilled at formulating the role of their clients’ parenthood, but do not necessarily address and support this role directly. The reasons for this are multifaceted, but any lasting change in practice is likely to require changes in services’ infrastructures and policies that support family-inclusive practices.
Section C provides a critical reflection of the research project by addressing four pre-determined broad questions: the development of my own research skills in the course of the project, how the project could have been improved, how conducting this research has impacted on my own clinical work with clients, and areas for future research.

KeywordsParents, Parenthood, Mentally ill parents, Psychotherapy, Grounded theory
Publication process dates
Deposited08 Nov 2011
SubmittedSep 2011
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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