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Maynier Valentin

PhD student in Sociology, EHESS

Doctoral school : 286 - Savoirs en sociétés

Contact: valentin.maynier(at)



Dissertation title : Psychologists’ role in the illness trajectories of children between 6 and 11 years old in  psychological suffering  during the COVID-19 period

Under the direction of Myriam Winance

With the health crisis, the question of children's mental health has been particularly raised in the media and in the political and scientific field. Various surveys such as Sapris or Epicov have noted an increase in psychological disorders among young people, and hospital actors have warned of an increase in emergency room visits by minors following suicide attempts as a result of confinements. These effects take place in a context of difficulties in child psychiatry which, while not new, have been particularly discussed during this period. In response to this context, the state introduced the PsyEnfantAdo scheme in May 2021, which offers a flat-rate reimbursement for child psychologists' sessions. Indeed, in the face of declining demographics of child psychiatrists and waiting lines in health care facilities, psychologists are emerging as important first-line professionals to follow these new patients.

This thesis proposes to study the role of these psychologists in dealing with childhood psychic disorders. Our investigation has two parts. First, it focuses on children's psychological suffering and its treatment, from a sociology of mental health perspective. We do not start from an identified disorder, but rather from a more general phenomenon of 'malaise', the definition of which we follow among the various actors, professionals or not. Our aim is therefore to identify how psychological suffering is defined by psychologists from different currents, how it is treated by these professionals in different care settings, and how it is experienced and thought about by the families of affected children. Secondly, this thesis focuses on how psychologists insert themselves into the care trajectories of these children, from the perspective of the sociology of medical professions. We will describe the role(s) of psychologists in the field of child psychiatry in the case of children with mental health problems, by studying their place in the care trajectories, but also their practices in the institutions where they work and the division of labour that takes place. We will use a qualitative methodology, conducting interviews with psychologists and with parents of children who consult a psychologist because of a malaise. In parallel to these interviews, we will carry out observations in different care settings.

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