Freeman, Adele (2011)
Clin.Psy.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Many of the risk factors for children developing psychological problems are the same as those that make families hard-to-reach but little is currently known about the help-seeking process undertaken by this group. The aim of this piece of research is to investigate hard-to-reach parents’ experiences of accessing social and emotional support for their children and in particular, the circumstances and decision-making process leading-up to them engaging with a voluntary sector organisation. Eight parents accessing one such organisation in the West Midlands, United Kingdom were interviewed individually and transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Three main themes are reported: Power and disempowerment, Ambivalence about support and coping, and Drawing upon internal and external resources to survive. Being in a disempowered position and feeling controlled contributed to parents having an ambivalent relationship with services. Positive experiences of engaging with services were related to the ability of service staff to make parents feel valued. Findings suggest that hard-to-reach families may be more likely to engage with services that offer a holistic and flexible approach and whose staff convey warmth and unconditional regard. Further research with specific hard to-reach groups and those who remain hard-to-reach for even the most flexible and inclusive services is recommended.
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