A qualitative exploration of clinical psychologists’ experiences as leaders of intersectional power and its impact on their responses to privilege and discrimination

Prof Doc Thesis

Daly, A. 2023. A qualitative exploration of clinical psychologists’ experiences as leaders of intersectional power and its impact on their responses to privilege and discrimination. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8wqwv
AuthorsDaly, A.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Background: Leadership and ‘inclusion’ are at the forefront of NHS policy and clinical psychologists (CPs) are considered to belong within this agenda. However, there lacks consensus on what leadership is. Nor is there clear guidance on how it can achieve ‘inclusion’. Current conceptualisations of leadership do not acknowledge the privilege and barriers faced by leaders, how they operate and their impact. Additionally, there is a lack of exploration of CPs perspectives, and minoritised and marginalised leaders’ experiences in particular.

Aim: To explore how CP leaders of any background working in the UK define their leadership style and approach to issues around privilege and discrimination. Methodology: Semi structured interviews were conducted with twelve participants who self-identified as leaders and were of mixed demographic backgrounds. Responses were analysed within a critical realist framework using reflexive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006).

Results: The analysis generated one overarching theme reflecting the context within which leaders have long attempted to challenge discrimination, three subthemes and
eight associated sub-themes. 1) Personal risks and challenges reflected ideas about the toll of their own personal experiences and effects on their relationships with others. 2) Fitting the leadership mould described how the profession of predominantly white CPs is no better at challenging discrimination than other professionals and despite being more readily accepted as leaders in contrast to racialised colleagues. 3) Leadership roles and responsibilities referenced divergent perspectives on the power, limits and responsibilities of leadership as well as a need to integrate personal and professional narratives.

Conclusion: The study highlights divergent ideas about leaders’ roles and responsibilities when it comes to issues of privilege and discrimination and explores the role of Whiteness in relation to this. Recommendations to enhance CPs ability and capacity to manage and address discrimination include a critical exploration of the concept of leadership in addition to the crucial process of self-reflection for the benefit of service users, families, communities and the colleagues we serve and work alongside.

KeywordsLeadership; clinical psychology; discrimination; privilege; racism; whiteness
PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/uel.8wqwv
File Access Level
Publication dates
Online10 Oct 2023
Publication process dates
Completed27 Mar 2023
Deposited10 Oct 2023
Copyright holder© 2023, The Author
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