Conversations about social, emotional and mental health needs: educational psychologists’ facilitation of a collaborative joint consultation process

Underwood, Claire (2022) Conversations about social, emotional and mental health needs: educational psychologists’ facilitation of a collaborative joint consultation process. DAppEdPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

PDF (Thesis - as examined) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Available under Licence Creative Commons Attribution.
Download (2MB) | Preview


With increasing rates of social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs in UK schools (NHS Digital, 2020) and expectations for school staff to support them (DfE, 2018), educational psychologists (EPs) are often called on for support (Sharpe et al., 2016). Although consultation is a key approach to EPs’ casework (Leadbetter, 2006), relying on interpersonal skills (Zafeiriou & Gulliford, 2020), little qualitative research focusing on the interactions within consultations exists (Newman & Clare, 2016). Furthermore, despite recognition of the impact school and home environments can have on children and young people, little research exists into joint consultations (involving home and school) within the UK.

Positioned within a social constructionist epistemology, this study considers how language is used to facilitate collaborative consultations. The interactions within three SEMH-focused consultations in primary and secondary schools are analysed using a discourse analysis approach, drawing on Discursive Psychology and Conversation Analysis. The way in which parents and school staff describe situations associated with young people’s SEMH needs and their roles within them are considered. The study then focuses on EPs’ use of language when seeking to facilitate collaboration. Collaboration was considered to be observed when the consultation group appeared to be reaching a shared understanding of the situation, and strategies to support a young person were developed jointly (co-produced) (Wagner, 2008; Gutkin & Curtis, 2009). The analysis highlighted the effects of the EPs’ use of a solution-focused approach to containment and scaffolding strategies within the interactions. This appeared to lead to changes in the way events and others are described (developing a shared understanding) and led to agreements over next steps, including strategies to support the individual.

It is hoped this study will support EPs seeking to reflect on and develop their use of consultation as an approach to supporting children and young people’s SEMH needs, while adding to the bank of qualitative research into joint consultations in the UK.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DAppEdPsy)
Supervisors: Clarke, Victoria
Keywords: Educational psychologists; Collaborative consultations; Discourse analysis; Communication; Use of language
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1050 Educational psychology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 71669
Depositing User: Underwood, Claire
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2023 10:25
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2023 10:25

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View