'GLEANING THE GRAIN FROM THE THRESHING-FLOOR IN THE MIDST OF A STORM’ - AN INTERPRETATIVE PHENOMENOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGISTS’ EXPERIENCE OF WORKING AS EXPERT WITNESSES IN THE FAMILY COURT

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Joanne Greer

Abstract

The aim of this research was to explore the lived experience of educational psychologists (EPs) working as expert witnesses in the family court and to capture some of their tacit knowledge. The research was conducted during a ‘perfect storm’ of reforms in family justice, austerity measures and following the publication of ‘The Ireland Report’ (Ireland, 2012) which was highly critical of the quality of psychological reports prepared for the family courts and captured the attention of the national media at a time when several high profile cases involving expert witness malpractice were also under scrutiny. Adopting Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) as the methodology, two EP expert witnesses were interviewed using in-depth conversations based around two semi-structured interview prompts. Interview transcripts were then analysed using IPA, firstly within individual interviews and cases and then across interviews and cases. Superordinate themes emerged as five main focus points: 1) The role of being an EP and an expert witness, 2) Maintaining a phenomenological attitude, 3) Personal and professional identity, 4) The context of court and 5) The experience of the interview. Findings indicate that the widely accepted Fallon, Woods and Rooney (2010) definition of who EPs are and what EPs do also holds in the context of the family court, with the scientist-practitioner identity being further illuminated in this milieu, especially with regard to formulation, maintaining a phenomenological attitude and reflexivity.

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Original languageEnglish
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Award date31 Dec 2018