University of Leicester
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Clients' constructions of the keyworker relationship in adult mental health : a collaborative alliance?

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:46 authored by James. Easton
The aim of the present study was to describe the keyworking relationship in adult mental health from the point of view of clients. The precise nature of this relationship is not well defined. Whether what people want from service providers and what is offered match is not known. More specifically this research set out to explore clients' perceptions of the keyworker relationship, with particular reference to: the role of the keyworker, the aims and functions of keyworking, and the aspects of the keyworker relationship that are perceived as more or less helpful. The aim of this was to explore the experiences of six clients. All six participants were interviewed using a semi-structured format and the interviews were analysed using a social constructionist revision of grounded theory. Based on the analysis, a core category was identified and termed developing understanding within a working alliance. A dynamic process model highlighted particular factors and characteristics that enabled engagement. Empathic understanding, positive regard, instillation of hope and trust were seen to be characteristics of a good keyworker. Participants highlighted therapeutic context rather than content. This main finding indicated that person-centred approaches informed the general style of preferred engagement for participants. However, although these factors were seen to be helpful, the lack of clarity around the role of the keyworker generated anxiety and confusion for some participants. The findings are discussed in the light of previous research on psychological helping and keyworking in other settings. Some preliminary recommendations for working more effectively with clients are made. Implications in terms of clinical psychology training and clinical practice are discussed.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Clinical Psychology

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • DClinPsy



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