An hospitable engagement? Open-door psychotherapy with the socially excluded

Brown, Gabrielle, Kaintha, Kamal, Matheson, Catherine, Osborne, Jake, Trenkle, Anja and Adlam, John (2011) An hospitable engagement? Open-door psychotherapy with the socially excluded. Psychodynamic Practice, 17 (3). pp. 307-324. ISSN 1475-3634 (Print) ; 1475-3626 (Online)

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This article reflects upon the work of a pilot psychotherapy project that aimed to engage ‘adults facing chronic exclusion’. It is written by members of a supervision group (GB, KK, CM, JO, AT) and their supervisor (JA), working within a homelessness charity with funding from cross-departmental government sources. Within an ethos of an ‘open door’ offer of therapy to those who would accept it, the project sought to offer helpful ‘hospitality’ to individuals whose chronic problems excluded them from both society in general and also from mainstream psychotherapy provision. Encounters and transactions at the threshold of the project enabled us to interrogate our pre-existing assumptions about our task. Individuals who would not accept the offer of psychotherapy on the terms we set out did nevertheless often invest in attachments made in the liminal space, placing in question both our socio-political brief and our clinical assumptions. Derrida's discussion of hospitality provides a conceptual frame in which to attend to the dynamics of making an offer such as ours. We explore meanings of the acceptance, rejection and negotiation of hospitality, both in the client group and as reflected in our own supervision process. The article examines the psychosocial context of the initiative and offers a critique of its conflicting objectives and the ‘impossible task’ that the project was given, or took upon itself.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online: 12 Jul 2011. Special Issue: Psycho-Social Perspectives on the Dynamics of Inclusion and Exclusion in Groups, Organisations, Communities and in Society
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social Exclusion, Psychotherapy, Complex Needs, Homelessness, Open Door
Subjects: Psychological Therapies, Psychiatry, Counselling > Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
Department/People: Adult and Forensic Services

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