Reflections on the completion of a psychoanalytically informed interview study involving children’s services professionals
Hollway and Jefferson’s free association narrative interview method is an approach to qualitative research interviewing that draws on concepts and practices traditionally associated with psychoanalytic therapy. Owing to this psychosocial framework, the method is an attractive proposition for psychodynamically orientated practitioner-researchers. Various studies by researchers in counselling and clinical psychology and the allied fields of social work and mental health nursing have made use of the method or aspects of it. This article describes and provides reflections on the completion of one study informed by the method involving interviews with social workers and intensive family intervention professionals working in English local authority children’s services. The article is concerned with some of the more practical issues involved in doing this research: gaining access to and interviewing a suitable sample of professionals; the format of interviews and interviewing technique; the analysis of interview material; and the role of researcher reflexivity and the use of the researcher’s ‘countertransference’ experience (with a specific concern for countertransference boredom). Overall, the article contributes to furthering thinking about the free association narrative interview method as a tool of social work research and what it means to do qualitative research with social work and child welfare professionals in a psychoanalytically informed way.