Transference and its impact for social care professionals : an exploratory inquiry within a homeless care setting

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Klint, Lilli
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BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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LOVE IS THE KEY. In Lacanian language, if psychoanalysis is a means, it is situated in the place of love. Love helps to understand what occurs in the therapeutic relationship. Practitioner's genuine human response to client’s needs is thought to be at the heart of social work practise. The quality of therapeutic alliance is considered to be a critical component in the process of assisting homeless people to move into permanent housing. Studies have shown that social workers experience high rates of depression and proneness to occupational burnout. Therefore the hypothesis was that the homeless sector worker would benefit from an engagement in counselling and psychotherapy alongside professional supervision. In reviewing the literature, it was found that little empirical research has been done into the nature of intersubjectivity in the homeless sector in a psychotherapeutic frame of reference with an emphasis on the practitioner’s well-being. An overarching aim was that findings would broaden an understanding of the relevance of psychoanalytic and psychodynamic theories, psychotherapeutic treatment techniques and concepts within homeless service. Both Freudian and Lacanian principles as well as Object Relations theory underpinned the study. For the purposes of the research five participants were interviewed. They experienced the work as both rewarding and challenging by its nature of constant change, unpredictability and opportunity to make a difference in the lives of marginalised group of people. The process of thematic analysis was applied to the rich data that encapsulated the multifaceted therapeutic alliances. Relationships are central, and the deep bonds created were apparent in the narratives that transpired the overarching theme of “The Relationship Building”. This was divided into three sub-themes of “Them and Us”, “Trust” and “Team and Supervision”. The discussion focused on interpretation of transference and countertransference responses observed in the data collected. The findings support the conclusion that engagement in both counselling and psychotherapy would be beneficial for workers in the homeless sector. Author keywords: Transference, homelessness, Freud, Lacan, Object Relations, development, therapeutic alliance, social work, qualitative, thematic