Practice to Policy: Clinical psychologists' experiences of macro-level work

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Browne, N. (2017)
  • Publisher: UCL (University College London)
  • Subject: clincial psychology, clinical psychologists, psychologists, policy, social policy, macro-level, macro, social change, housing, housing interventions, mental health, housing improvements, policy inititives, professional psychology

Many clinical psychologists are venturing beyond their traditional therapeutic roles to undertake macro-level work, engaging with social change, policy and public health. However, no research has systematically examined clinical psychologists’ roles in policy work and the implications for the profession. Part 1 of the thesis is a literature review of one area of macro-level policy aimed at improving the social determinants of mental health. It reviews nine intervention studies of housing improvement policy initiatives in the UK and their impact on mental health. Overall, study quality was moderate. There was limited evidence that such interventions improved mental health from some well-designed studies. Further evaluation of housing policy is needed to capture the full range of positive and negative effects on mental health. Part 2 presents the findings from a qualitative study of 37 eminent clinical psychologists’ experiences of macro-level policy work. It examines the processes involved, skills and competencies needed and the barriers and facilitators encountered. Interview transcripts were analysed using Thematic Analysis and resulted in six themes, organised into two domains. Clinical psychologists have core research and clinical skills that have the potential to be translated into work within much broader political systems. However, there are areas for development which involve drawing on applied sciences such as epidemiology, social and organisational psychology. Training, clinical, professional and research implications are offered. Part 3 is a critical appraisal and reflection on the research process. It focuses on the advantages and disadvantages of being an ‘inside’ researcher, the scale of the study and discusses the terminology used in the study, particularly the term ‘activist-practitioner’.
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