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Exploring the impact of perceptions of psychological therapy on access to and engagement with therapy

Harris, L (2022). Exploring the impact of perceptions of psychological therapy on access to and engagement with therapy. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


In the UK, approximately 850,000 people are living with dementia (Wittenberg et al., 2019) and 500,000 people are thought to be providing unpaid care for people with dementia in England (Department of Health, 2009). Caring for someone with dementia can have a significant negative impact on carers’ physical and psychological well-being. Evidence suggests psychological therapy may be helpful in addressing this impact, but that carers do not always seek therapy despite significant distress. Previous research has suggested that carers who completed therapy appreciated the safe space to talk. This study focused on carers of people with dementia, who have not previously accessed therapy. It aimed to investigate how carers of people with dementia perceive therapy and how these perceptions influence carers’ decisions regarding accessing therapy. Semi-structured interviews with carers were analysed using a grounded theory method. Findings included the apparent invisibility of therapy as an option for carers, varying levels of understanding regarding therapy, varying perceptions of the relative safety or threat-level of therapy (partly linked to carers’ coping styles) and perceiving the process to access therapy as a battle. The resulting model provides insight into this process and indicates the importance of accurate, visible information about therapy being available to carers. Implications for clinical practice are discussed. These include considerations of information provided prior to psychological therapy by therapists and non-therapists, as well as considerations during therapy.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
City, University of London (-2022) > School of Arts & Social Sciences
School of Arts & Social Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
[thumbnail of Lucy Harris Final DPsych Portfolio with Redactions.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
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