13 SES 04 A, Entitlement, transition, and hysteria
Since the beginnings of psychoanalysis, writing, interpreting and discussing reports on work situations has been one of the characteristics of psychoanalysis. This is no coincidence for at least two reasons.
Firstly: Psychoanalysis deals with inner-psychic, mental activities and processes, with sprecial respect to emotions, that individuals are not aware of consciously and cannot be aware of consciously due to unconscious defence, and yet - or precisely because of this - have a great influence on what people feel physically, what they experience consciously, how they behave and how they develop.
There are a wide range of methods used nowadays for investigating these activities and processes. Nevertheless it is still essential that psychoanalytic researchers involve themselves in working relationships in order to get a privileged access to the dynamics of the processes that arise in and between people involved. There are good reasons why it is important to take advantage of this privileged access, in order to obtain new impressions, to raise new questions and, in exchange with other researchers, to generate new insights according to the main subject of psychoanalysis .
In order to be able to explain to others how new findings were gained and what they consist of, it is necessary to find appropriate modes of presentation that correspond to the subject of psychoanalysis. This includes the lively presentation of the work situations and the work processes from which the generation of findings started and to which the research results are related. From this perspective, the description and publication of work situations is an indispensable part of psychoanalytic research and publishing.
Freud referred to this aspect already 1885 in the "Studies on Hysteria" when he wrote that parts of his papers had the character of short stories (or novels). Starting from this remark, a research tradition can be identified within psychoanalysis which is relevant even today and intensively discussed - including the different use and benefit of reports written from memory, audiotapes and video recordings. This research tradition is also relevant to the investigation of educational processes beyond psychotherapeutic settings, which is corresponding with the fact that case reports and case studies can also be found in many publications which belong to the overlapping field of psychoanalysis and education.
Secondly: Another, more recent discussion concerns the question of the significance of writing and discussing reports on work situations for the development and training of psychoanalytic attitudes, skills and competences. This discussion also concerns not only the psychoanalytic training of ongoing psychotherapists, but also the formation and further education of teachers, social workers, counsellors etc. A particular version of this way of pychoanalytic education, called "Work Discussion", was developed at the Tavistock Clinic in London by Martha Harris and is in the focus of some research running at the reseach unit "Psychoanalysis and Education" at the "Department of Education" of the University of Vienna.
In our presentation we will describe the Work Discussion method. We also will outline a rating system which has been develpoed at the University of Vienna in order to investigate in which way and in which respect persons working in educational fields benefit from participating in Work Discussion Seminars with regard to the development of skills that are crucial for the psychoanalytic reflection on the dynamics of work situations and processes. First results will be presented.
The primary task of the Work Discussion method can be defined as follows: "The participants in Work Discussion seminars, together with the seminar leaders, have to discuss regularly-written working papers in regularly-held seminar sessions in such a way that the participants develop a deep understanding of the dynamics of work situations and experiences, so that this understanding is helpful for performing work tasks in their fields of professional work.“ In an attempt to fulfill this primary task, four (or up to a maximum of six) participants regularly meet on average weekly with a seminar leader over an extended period of time. All participants bring to each meeting a first-person report, written as descriptively as possible, covering one hour of their professional work in which they have interacted with other persons. After all members of the seminar group have received a copy of each of the reports, one report is read by its author and then discussed line by line and paragraph by paragraph, always in search of answers to the same three questions: a) How might the people have experienced the situations which can be found in the report? b) How, when seen against this background, can the behaviour of the people, as described, be understood? c) How did people experience the subsequent situation, which was very likely caused by their behaviour? One member of the seminar group has to take notes which are distributed at the beginning of the next session. In several Master's courses, people working in educational fields attend Work Discussion Seminars over several semesters. At the end of each seminar, students are required to write a paper in which (a) they quote an extract from a Work Discussion report that was not discussed in the seminar and (b) analyse it on their own with regard to the above-mentioned questions. If we examine three to four papers that each seminar participant wrote in the course of three or four consecutive seminars, we can evaluate which attitudes, skills and competences, that are important for the understanding of the dynamics of work situations, students have developed. In our investigation so far we have focused on the definition and use of four dimensions and some sub-dimensions, according to which we carry out our analyzes.
These four dimensions concern (a) the quality of the descriptive representation of the work situation; (b) the consecutive interpretation of the illustrated course of the work situation; (c) the quality in which observable behavior was understood as an expression of mental, especially emotional, activities and processes; as well as (d) the precision in which the students are focussing the way the people, who were present in the work situation, influenced each other. For each dimension up to five subdimensions were defined. The analysis of seminar papers written by about 40 Work Discussion seminar participants show a broad range of progress concerning these dimensions. It is most difficult for students to precisely describe processes of regulation of emotions (affects) at the highest quality level and to relate them to the interplay between those people who interact with each other in the work situation. It is considered what consequences can be derived from this finding for the way in which the seminars are run. Other discussions concern the expansion of the dimensions from four to six. Two studies have shown that in English- and German-language publications on Work Discussion numerous statements can be found about learning processes initiated and developed by attending Work Discussion seminars (Schöck 2018; Stefanek 2020). For the most part, these statements are underpinned casuistically. There are only a few studies in which such learning processes have been systematically examined in any other empirical way. We are confident that we can enrich these discussions with our investigations and generate research findings that show how important written reports of work situations and their discussion in seminars are helpful for the development of psychoanalytic relevant attitudes, skills and competences.
Datler, W., & Datler, M. (2014). Was ist „Work Discussion“? Über die Arbeit mit Praxisprotokollen nach dem Tavistock-Konzept [What is „Work Discussion“? The discussion of reported work situations according to the Tavistock Model]. University of Vienna: phaidra. Download on the internet: https://services.phaidra.univie.ac.at/api/object/o:368997/diss/Content/get Datler, W., Datler, M., Wininger, M. (2018): Evaluating the impact of Work Discussion techniques on the formation of psychoanalytic skills and attitudes: research designs and first results. In: International Journal of Infant Observation and its Applications 21, 204-219. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13698036.2019.1566015 Elfer, P., Greenfield, S., Robson, S., Wilson, D. & Zachariou, A. (2018). Love, satisfaction and exhaustion in the nursery: methodological issues in evaluating the impact of Work Discussion groups in the nursery. Early Child Development and Care 188 (7), 1-13. DOI: 10.1080/03004430.2018.1446431. Freud, S. (1885): Elisabeth v. R. In: Breuer, J., Freud, S.: Studies in Hysteria, pp. 135-182.https://archive.org/stream/studiesonhysteri037649mbp/studiesonhysteri037649mbp_djvu.txt Rustin, M.E., Bradley, J. (Eda.). (2008). Work Discussion. Learning from reflective practice in work with children and families. London: Karnac Schöck, D. (2018): „Lernprozesse in der Work-Discussion“. Eine systematische Untersuchung von deutschsprachigen Publikationen über die Darstellung von Lernprozessen in Work-Discussion-Seminaren. Masterthesis at the University of Vienna. Stefanek, K. A. (2020): Lernprozesse in der Work-Discussion. Eine systematische Untersuchung von englischsprachigen Publikationen über die Darstellung von Lernprozessen in Work-Discussion-Seminaren. Masterthesis at the University of Vienna.
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