Creating space to think and feel in child protection social work; A psychodynamic intervention

O'Sullivan, Nicola (2019) Creating space to think and feel in child protection social work; A psychodynamic intervention. Journal of Social Work Practice, 33 (1). pp. 15-25. ISSN 0265-0533

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Professionals working with families in difficulty require a structured space to consider their work. As organisations and the systems within and across them become more sophisticated it seems that less attention is being paid to the emotional and psychological aspects of working with families than to the paperwork and processes that surround the work. Systems psychodynamic theory and the methodical reflective practices it underpins offers a suitable framework in which to consider practicing and researching in this emotionally complex field. This paper describes one aspect of a small doctoral study designed to provide a sustained reflective space (Work Discussion Group) to Irish child protection social workers in order to closely explore the reality of their practice experience. This paper explores one worker’s experience of bringing a written account of her work with a family to the WDG. Findings suggest that her work was undertaken in a climate concerned with efficiency, certainty and the reduction of risk. This climate evoked anxiety and reduced opportunities for reflective and considered practice. The work discussion group provided containment for this worker’s anxiety and allowed her to make sense of this anxiety and its accompanying defences and to move closer to working with this family.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online: 17 Apr 2018
Uncontrolled Keywords: Defences, Psychic Retreat, Child Protection, Work Discussion Group, Reflective Practice
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Child Protection
Social Welfare > Social Work
Department/People: Department of Education and Training

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