'Negotiating the dance of disclosure': a grounded theory study of psychologists’ experiences of childhood sexual abuse disclosures from clients in adult mental health
Ross, Emma Margaret Helen
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Hearing disclosures of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a clinical reality for many therapists. Psychologists within mental health services are working increasingly with clients who have traumatic histories, including the presence of CSA. Recently there has been a drive towards improving services for adult survivors of CSA, with an emphasis on asking health and social care service-users about abuse. Recent research has demonstrated that the experience of talking about CSA in psychological therapy can be a complex experience for client and clinician with varied consequences for both parties. The research into psychologists‟ experiences of CSA disclosure has been limited to surveys of psychologists‟ practice and knowledge and has lacked a scientific approach. This study aimed to expand on the scientific research into CSA disclosure with a Constructivist Grounded Theory approach (CGT). CGT was used to explore psychologists‟ experiences of CSA disclosure from clients in Adult Mental Health. Eight psychologists took part in the current study and were recruited from a large Clinical Psychology service in Scotland. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews. Core categories constructed in this study contributed to a model of psychologists‟ experiences of disclosure in AMH clinical practice. Core categories referred to “Negotiating the Dance of Disclosure” and “Nurturing the Pre-conditions to Disclosure”, which occur in parallel to the therapeutic relationship; whereas “Growing Personally and Professionally” and “Carrying the Weight of the Work” refer to the impact of hearing disclosures and talking about CSA with clients. Research findings are discussed and the implications of this model in relation to theory and areas of development for research and clinical practice are considered.