Purpose: The needs of young people within forensic mental health settings are starting to become more recognised and services are beginning to reflect this. However there is little research into how staff in forensic child and adolescent mental health settings experience the task of working with this group of young people with complex difficulties. The purpose of this study is to explore how these staff experience their work. This is intended to expand research in this area and identify how the findings can inform clinical practice and future research. Method: A systematic literature search identified some research in relation to the needs of adolescents with mental health and forensic difficulties and literature in relation to working with children. Very little was found in relation to staff experiences working with children in forensic mental health settings but some research relating to adult forensic and mental health settings was found. A qualitative study was carried out in order to bridge this gap in the research. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was selected as the method of analysis for the study, which involved interviews with nine participants who were currently working in secure child and adolescent forensic mental health services. Results: Four themes emerged from the first level of analysis: powerful internal experiences, impact of the environment, negotiating complex staff relationships and managing complex client dynamics. A second level of analysis focusing on the researcher‟s impressions of the research overall identified another theme: difficulty thinking about and articulating experiences. Conclusion: This study is an important first step in identifying some of the issues faced by staff working in a challenging area. It has highlighted clinical implications and where further research might be useful
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