Building a case for accessing service provision in child and adolescent mental health assessments

In everyday conversations, people put forward versions of events and provide supporting evidence to build a credible case. In environments where there are potentially competing versions, case-building may take a more systematic format. Specifically, we conducted a rhetorical analysis to consider how in child mental health settings, families work to present a credible ‘doctorable’ reason for attendance. Data consisted of video-recordings of 28 families undergoing mental health assessments. Our findings point to eight rhetorical devices utilised in this environment to build a case. The devices functioned rhetorically to add credibility and authenticate the case being built, which was relevant as the only resource available to families claiming the presence of a mental health difficulty in the child were their spoken words. In other words, the ‘problem’ was something constructed through talk and therefore the kinds of resources used were seminal in decision-making.

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