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The quest for genuine care: A qualitative study of the experiences of young people who self-harm in residential care

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/04/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number2
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)418-429
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date13/12/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Levels of self-harm for young people in care are high, and even higher for those in residential care. Recent research highlights the importance of understanding self-harm relationally. Such an approach may be of particular value for understanding the self-harm of young people in care. The aim of this research was to understand the experiences of young people who self-harm whilst living in residential care, with a particular focus on the effect of the care setting on their self-harm. Five young people participated in semi-structured interviews which were analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. Four themes emerged: ‘The black hole of self-harm’, ‘Seeking genuine care and containment, ‘The cry to be understood’ and ‘Loss of control to the system.’ Young people recognised their need for support with their self-harm, but organisationally driven approaches to managing risk contributed to a perception that the care offered was not genuine, which led to an unwillingness to accept care. The findings highlight the need for a more compassionate, relational response to young people who self-harm in residential care.

Bibliographic note

The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 26 (2), 2021, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2021 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Social Psychological and Personality Science page: https://journals.sagepub.com/home/SPP on SAGE Journals Online: http://journals.sagepub.com/