Meaning lost and found: Containment in contemporary organisations. A case study based research project with a crisis agency

Lucey, Aideen (2017) Meaning lost and found: Containment in contemporary organisations. A case study based research project with a crisis agency. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of East London. Full text available

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Abstract/Book Review

Containment is a key concept in the systems psychodynamic tradition of consultancy. The emotional processing function of containment is necessary to enable the kind of thinking that produces good work and good working relationships. Yet despite all that is known about containment and its importance in the workplace, it appears to be lacking in many organisations today. This study aims to better understand what is happening in organisations that makes containment so difficult to find. It also explores what it is in terms of an organisational consultant’s practice that helps or hinders the development of containing relationships at work. The study was carried out using a single organisational case study – a ‘consultation as research’ with a group of managers in an organisation engaged in crisis work. ‘Use of self as an instrument of research’ was the main methodology used. Observations, dreams, images and the countertransference experience were employed as sources of meaning and data. The thesis examines the ways in which meaning was lost and found during the work with the research client and draws conclusions about working at containment in this context. It argues that, in some instances, the container itself may be absent or impaired and this requires more than being available as a receptive presence. In these circumstances the container needs to be built or rebuilt before a process of meaning making can take place. The thesis broadens the discussion to consider factors that are contributing to high levels of anxiety in organisations today and argues that anxieties about survival in both staff and clients need to be contained. It also argues that ideas about how containment is cultivated need to take into account the changing landscape of contemporary organisations.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of East London in collaboration with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust for the Professional Doctorate in Consultation and the Organisation
Uncontrolled Keywords: D10D, D10
Subjects: Groups & Organisations > Groups/Institutions/Organisations
Department/People: Department of Education and Training
Research
Depositing User: Ms Linda Dolben
Date Deposited: 01 May 2018 13:04
Last Modified: 01 May 2018 13:39
URI: http://repository.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/id/eprint/1751

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