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Use of a reference group in researching children’s views of psychotherapy in Malta

Mercieca, D; Jones, P; (2018) Use of a reference group in researching children’s views of psychotherapy in Malta. Journal of Child Psychotherapy , 44 (2) pp. 243-262. 10.1080/0075417X.2018.1481130. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper explores the process and outcomes of a children’s reference group within the context of child psychotherapy research in residential care. The reference group was set up to consult children about the design of a research project which seeks to evoke, represent and understand children’s views of psychotherapy. No work to date has explored the experience of reference groups in the context of child psychotherapy in residential care in Malta. The paper contextualises the research within the literature on reference groups in child research, which identifies the potential of reference groups as a participative and co-reflexive activity which can inform research design. The paper critically examines the nature and conduct of the reference group by acknowledging the specific context of this work rather than assuming this is necessarily positive. It does so by specifying and evaluating the outcomes of the reference group in line with its aims. The paper draws on the recordings of the reference group meetings and reference group field notes taken by the researcher as key data which were thematically analysed. The main outcomes of the reference group include children’s contribution to the design of data collection methods especially in terms of not relying only on words during data collection. Children also identified key ethical issues from the point of view of young psychotherapy service users, especially in relation to issues of trust within a residential care context. Children also reviewed and appraised research information material. The reference group process drew from the researcher’s and participants’ contexts and contributed significantly to the researcher’s reflexive process especially in terms of acknowledging his power and positioning as an adult and his dual role as a practitioner/researcher.

Type: Article
Title: Use of a reference group in researching children’s views of psychotherapy in Malta
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/0075417X.2018.1481130
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/0075417X.2018.1481130
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Reference groups, child participation, children’s views of psychotherapy, residential care, looked after children
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Learning and Leadership
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10060279
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