What Is the Impact of Neoliberalism on Clinical Psychology Practice? A Foucauldian Genealogical Analysis

Prof Doc Thesis

Sunley, T. 2022. What Is the Impact of Neoliberalism on Clinical Psychology Practice? A Foucauldian Genealogical Analysis. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8v646
AuthorsSunley, T.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

There has been an increase in research looking into the impact of neoliberalism on mental health and healthcare over recent years, with studies particularly emphasising the harmful implications of neoliberalism on people’s wellbeing. However, much of this research has been criticised for a lack of nuance and specificity, and only a few studies have looked at the impact of neoliberalism on clinical psychology practice. This is an important research area for a profession which aims to reduce psychological distress and to enhance and promote psychological wellbeing. This study analyses historical documents relating to the development of eight specific clinical psychology practices. A Foucauldian Genealogical Analysis is used to develop a critical interpretation of the mechanisms and power relations underlying the impact of neoliberal processes of governmentality and subjectification on these practices. The analysis suggests that in a neoliberal era, clinical psychology practices have predominantly supported and enabled a neoliberal hegemony. Documents published by the profession emphasise practices that can be used to change individuals’ behaviour and ‘ways of being’ in line with neoliberal strategies. More recently, clinical psychology documents also show an increase in practices that offer resistance to a neoliberal hegemony. However, these practices exhibit a tendency of being marginalised or altered in service of neoliberal strategies. The analytical interpretation developed in this study offers tools to support the resistance of a neoliberal hegemony by providing critical questions that could be used to critique existing practices and policies and develop alternatives.

PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8v646
File Access Level
Publication dates
Online16 Jan 2023
Publication process dates
Completed18 Jul 2022
Deposited16 Jan 2023
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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