This qualitative study aims to explore the types and purpose of discourse emerging when professionals from a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service meet with professionals from other agencies to discuss cases. The aim reflects current political and contextual agendas influencing agencies to work more closely together and obstacles to achieving this goal highlighted in the literature such as the need for agencies to develop a common language to discuss children of concern. Data were collected through eight audio-taped meetings involving CAMHS and members of other agencies such as social services and education. A thematic analysis identified nine themes, defined according to their discourse type, including: single agency discourse; case complexity discourse and multi-agency discourse. Results indicate that agencies are hindered from working more closely together and developing a common language for use in multi-agency meetings, because they tend to have different understandings of the terminology used and a common consensus about language and meaning is not usually negotiated within the meeting. There is a need for greater awareness amongst staff from different professional groups and agencies that meaning given by one group will often need to be clarified by others and assumptions about common understandings should not be made.
- Common language