Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy(Clinical Psychology)


Department of Psychology


How mental health services are delivered has changed significantly over the last two decades. World-wide, large custodial institutions are being dismantled in favour of the more humanistic communitybased care approach. Theoretically the transition has been smooth. Unfortunately in many instances this has not been the case in practice. Many reasons for the difficulty in implementing the community care model have put forward. The lack of resources and poor networking of the services that do exist, are the two most popular of these reasons. Very little attention has been paid to one of the most fundamental elements of these services, the mental health professional. With the advent of community-based care, the multidisciplinary team approach grew out of necessity. Clients had numerous problems that required the expertise of not just one or two professionals, but many. The meanings that the members of these professions attribute to their work with clients have not been studied. Nor have the commonality and differences in client construction between mental health professionals been addressed. I have used qualitative and quantitative techniques, specifically the Repertory Grid, an interview schedule and questionnaires, to describe how psychiatrists, psychologists and nurses make sense of what they do when they work with clients. The client constructions of these three mental health professions proved more similar than different. Some of the implications of this research for the delivery of mental health services and the training of professionals are discussed.