A Qualitative Study of Workplace Factors Influencing Expertise in the Delivery of Children’s Education and Mental Health Services

Gillian King, Jacqueline Specht, Doreen Bartlett, Michelle Servais, Patricia Petersen, Heather Brown, Gabrielle Young, Shannon Stewart


Background: Interest in professional expertise is growing. Interactional and developmental perspectives are being adopted to understand the nature of expertise and the environmental factors that influence its development. This article provides qualitative information about the workplace factors and experiences considered important by individuals providing education or mental health services to children, with one group working within an interprofessional team approach (service providers) and the other working in a discipline-specific manner (teachers).
Methods and Findings: Two focus groups were held: one involving 5 elementary or secondary school teachers and principals, and one involving 9 therapists who provide specialized children’s mental health services. Information arising in these group sessions was used to develop themes reflecting key elements discussed; the themes were then contrasted to infer differences between the two groups. The findings point to the importance of establishing a collaborative, learning-oriented workplace culture, including opportunities for varied work experiences, peer interaction and dialogue, and feedback.
Conclusions: Implications include adopting relationship-oriented and collaborative service delivery models and ensuring that workplace settings encourage natural learning opportunities involving interaction, dialogue, and feedback, as well as meaningful professional development experiences of value to participants.


Expertise; Service delivery; Children; Workplace; Development

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22230/jripe.2010v1n3a25