Aslam, Sidra (2012)
Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
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Looked-after children (LAC) are particularly vulnerable to poor mental health. Yet there appears to be limited research on their experiences of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) despite the concept of participation and being listened to strongly exemplified throughout government policy and guidance. A multiple case study design explores the lived experiences of four looked-after young people who have accessed CAMHS and attended a therapeutic intervention. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with four looked-after young people, using activities that are congruent with personal construct psychology (Kelly, 1995). Thematic analysis highlights that ‘CAMHS as a secure base’ is a facilitator to attending CAMHS. Barriers for the looked-after young people in attending CAMHS related to limited accessibility due to in-care factors and CAMHS factors. LAC’s experiences of attending a therapeutic intervention through CAMHS were positive. The overarching theme of ‘exploring trauma, loss and rejection’ highlights that attending a therapeutic intervention at CAMHS supported the looked-after young people to process and resolve difficult past experiences and reconstruct working models of self and attachment figures. Participants also highlighted ways in which CAMHS could be improved for LAC through a need for transparency. Implications for all professionals working with LAC are discussed.
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