Otago Polytechnic
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Walking interviews

Penelope Kinney

Penelope Kinney’s current research, which uses walking interviews as a method of data collection, has encouraged forensic psychiatric clients to ‘tell their stories’.

Penelope used this interview method in her PhD research, which looks at clients transitioning from hospital to community. “From my experience working in these services in the past I know that spontaneous verbal communication can pose many challenges for clients with the service,” she explains. “This occurs because of the nature of their illnesses and their suspicion of those in authority. Walking interviews – where I walked alongside the client participant – allowed me to have a more natural interaction.”

She is excited to be able to include the voices of a group that is notoriously difficult to access because, understandably, services want to protect them. “I’ve never made a transition like this, and have never been in a situation where I’ve been confined to a place – similar to a prison – where I can’t leave when I want,” she says. “This is their story and so it is important they get to tell it.”

Prior to working in Otago Polytechnic’s School of Occupational Therapy, Penelope worked as a clinical occupational therapist within forensic psychiatric services. “I was drawn to this specialty area because of the unique challenges within it. I have a passion for this area, which has allowed me to work alongside clients in a productive and meaningful way.”

Penelope aims to develop a framework that represents how a person within forensic psychiatric services can transition to living in the community again. “This is not something that has been explored in any depth in the past,” she says, “and I can see my research really contributing to the knowledge already out there.”

Penelope has recently published an article through the Social Research Update on using walking interviews. She also has a book chapter in press at the moment, focusing on the ethics of walking interviews.