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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Thinking from Experience in Psychosocial Practice: Reclaiming and Teaching 'Use of Self'

A course based on psychosocial theory and students' experiences in practice has been taught in the UK, Norway and Quebec. It departs from the classical social work concept 'use of self' and aims to help novices in health and social work to understand how the social world is internalised and re-produced and the value of thinking from experience. International developments such as, competency-based education, New Public Management and evidence- based practice reduce opportunities for experiential learning. This trend has been exacerbated by a focus on anti-oppressive practice without a corresponding understanding of how oppressive relations are internalized and enacted by defended and conflicted subjects. Attempts to rectify a relational deficit through traditions of reflective practice and critical reflection are important developments, but could be further strengthened by psychosocial and psychodynamic perspectives. The course combines critical, contextual and relational thinking for students in caring professions.