‘I’m not you know an aid worker….I’m there to apply the law.’ Clinical Negligence Solicitors’ Experience of Their Work: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
thesisposted on 16.11.2012, 11:50 by Sarah Lawson
Section One: Literature Review - Professionals working with traumatized clients may be adversely affected through their work. A systematic review of the quantitative literature of the evidence of distress in legal professionals was conducted. Eight articles met the inclusion criteria, reporting varying levels of distress. The review highlighted a dearth of rigorously conducted research in this area. Although tentative, the findings suggest that legal professionals are at risk of experiencing adverse psychological effects due to their work with potentially traumatised individuals. The implications of the findings emphasise a need for caution in interpretation, a coherent understanding of traumatogenesis, and better application of standardised tools to assess both psychological distress and any enduring psychological detriment. Findings also suggest a need for greater awareness of inadvertent distress arising via work in legal professionals and improved rigour in both conceptualisation of distress and its assessment. Section Two: Research Report - The research report investigated clinical negligence solicitors’ experience of working with clients, using interpretative phenomenological analysis to interrogate interview data from five participants. Emergent themes comprised; anxiety about their own and their family’s health, threat and cynicism about the health system, and balancing the benefits and dis-benefits of their work. Participants also reported a conflict between their roles as a solicitor and offering clients emotional support. Legal professionals in the study disclosed pervasive issues relating to heightened affect and emotional containment, consistent with aspects of trauma and health anxiety. Recommendations are made regarding support and its delivery utilising clinical psychologists’ skills in consultancy. Section Three: Critical Appraisal - The critical appraisal provides reflections on the overall research process, as well as areas of learning and development that are pertinent to the author. These include; reflections of methodological issues, considerations of being a qualitative researcher and a critique of the limitations of the study.