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The psy-disciplines go to school: psychiatric, psychological and psychotherapeutic approaches to inclusion in one UK primary school

Barker, B. & Mills, C. (2018). The psy-disciplines go to school: psychiatric, psychological and psychotherapeutic approaches to inclusion in one UK primary school. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 22(6), pp. 638-654. doi: 10.1080/13603116.2017.1395087


A growing body of research, largely from the global North, and particularly from North America, highlights the increasing psychiatrisation, medicalisation, and psychologisation of children and childhood, and suggests that schools and educators play a key role in these processes. This increasing diffusion of psy-expertise within educational spaces signifies a
cultural shift that has profound effects on teacher and student subjectivity, and on institutional and professional practices. Educators in many countries are said to be on the ‘front-line’ in identifying mental health issues, recommending treatment pathways, and sometimes helping to administer psycho-pharmaceuticals. The alacrity with which educators engage in these practices varies internationally, with reported occurrence being much higher in the United
States and Canada, compared to the United Kingdom, where there is a lack of research.

Drawing upon a case study in a UK primary school, this paper makes an original and timely contribution to research into UK teacher’s perceptions of inclusion in relation to Social,
Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD) and, in particular, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), as they navigate the interface of psychology and education. Contrary to some previous research, the educators in this study viewed the distribution of
psycho-pharmaceuticals negatively, and showed a preference for psycho-therapeutic approaches to inclusion. This research provides much needed empirical findings to a growing but largely theoretically informed body of research exploring whether, and if so then how, educators are implicated in the mobilisation of psy-expertise within children’s lives.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Inclusive Education on 01 Nov 2017, available online:
Publisher Keywords: ADHD, inclusion, psychologisation, psychiatrisation, psy-expertise, SEBD
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Barker and Mills Psy Disciplines Manuscript final blind copy.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
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