Containment and beneficence in psychoanalytically informed social work research
Keywords:container-contained dynamics, containment, free association narrative interviews, practice-near research, psychoanalytically-informed interviewing, research beneficence
This article adds to literature addressing research beneficence from a psychoanalytic perspective, providing reflections focussing on notions of containment and container-contained dynamics as derived from the Kleinian/post-Kleinian tradition of psychoanalysis. It does so by reference to the accounts of participants in a study which explored how professionals working in local authority children’s services in England experience the suffering of parents. In this research, a psychoanalytically informed interview approach was used, and space was provided for participants to reflect on the experience of participation. The variable representation of this experience is considered along with the experience of the researcher carrying out the interviews. Questions are raised about using the language of containment in the context of this research approach and whether this may say more about a researcher’s desire to be helpful to participants and less about participants’ actual experiences (and a genuinely psychoanalytically based understanding of them).
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