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The texture of narrative dilemmas: qualitative study in front-line professionals working with asylum seekers in the UK

Abbas, P; von Werthern, M; Katona, C; Brady, F; Woo, Y; (2021) The texture of narrative dilemmas: qualitative study in front-line professionals working with asylum seekers in the UK. BJPsych Bulletin , 45 (1) pp. 8-14. 10.1192/bjb.2020.33. Green open access

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Abstract

AIMS AND METHOD: Asylum seekers are required to narrate past experiences to the UK Home Office, doctors, lawyers and psychologists as part of their claims for international protection. The Home Office often cites perceived inconsistencies in asylum interviews as grounds for refusal of their claims. A number of processes affect asylum seekers' abilities to narrate past experiences fully to the professionals interviewing them. The dilemmas around disclosure that asylum seekers face have received little attention to date. This work aims to explore the perspectives of UK-based medico-legal report-writing doctors, lawyers and psychologists whose work involves eliciting narratives from asylum seekers on the processes that affect asylum seekers' abilities to disclose sensitive personal information in interview settings. Eighteen professionals participated in semi-structured interviews in individual or focus group settings to discuss, from their perspectives of extensive collective professional experience, the narrative dilemmas experienced by asylum seekers with whom they have worked. RESULTS: Professionals identified a number of processes that made disclosure of personal information difficult for asylum seekers. These included asylum seekers' lack of trust towards the professionals conducting the interview, unclear ideas around pertinence of information for interviewers, feelings of fear, shame and guilt related to suspicions around collusions between UK and their country-of-origin's authorities, sexual trauma and, occasionally, their own involvement or collusion in crimes against others. CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Recommendations are made on how to improve the interview environment to encourage disclosure. These have important implications for future research and policy initiatives.

Type: Article
Title: The texture of narrative dilemmas: qualitative study in front-line professionals working with asylum seekers in the UK
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1192/bjb.2020.33
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1192/bjb.2020.33
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: Trauma, human rights, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychiatry and law, qualitative research
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10135036
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