Interpretative phenomenological analysis of young people's lived experiences of therapeutic residential care

Publication Name

Child and Family Social Work


Concerns of maltreatment and poor outcomes persist in residential care despite numerous government inquiries and recommendations. Young people in residential care continue to be the most vulnerable and marginalized group in the out-of-home care population. Young people's voices are also underrepresented in research. Existing studies predominantly focus on service evaluations in which individual voices of young people are overshadowed by adults' perspectives. Other studies examine the perspectives of young people in out-of-home care as a homogenous population, limiting understandings of the subjective experiences of young people in residential care. This study focused exclusively on young people's lived experiences in Australian therapeutic residential care, utilizing interpretative phenomenological analysis. The young people in this study revealed experiences of peer victimization, ambiguous loss and uncertainty during transitions. These findings suggest that more work is required in order to provide safe and healing environments and experiences for young people in therapeutic residential care. Each individual voice captured in this study offers valuable insights into how residential care practitioners can strengthen practice to enhance protection, engagement, connection with families and leaving care support.

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