If your work involves looking after other people - adults or children - you will know that it’s never an easy job. People can be problematic: they don’t do as you expect, they don’t do what’s good for them, they won’t do as you tell them, and there are times when they just won’t listen to reason.
As a worker, carer or manager you may have been offered strategies for dealing with these situations. They may have involved systems of rewards and punishments, or common sense advice, or sensible dos and don’ts to help clients or staff to change their attitudes or their behaviours. In many cases you’ll have found that these strategies simply don’t work. So what do you do next?
Human beings are infinitely variable, and there are no easy solutions. But as with any difficulty, if you want to make something better, you must first find out what’s causing the problem for that particular person in that particular situation.
When people seem to be thinking or behaving irrationally, it’s usually no help to to ask them for their reasons. The causes are often deeply unconscious: they probably don’t know why they feel or act as they do. And if they do offer you reasons, the chances are that the reasons they give may be only their best guess - and possibly a wrong guess at that.
Psychoanalytic thinking provides a body of theory, based on over a hundred years of careful study and observation, on the workings of the unconscious mind, on what goes on in the relationships between one person and another, and on why human beings think and behave as they do. Studying this theory can help you to make more sense of apparently irrational feelings and behaviours. And that in turn can help you to sort out the problems that arise when you are trying to look after other people. It’s a lot more complex than operating a set of strategies: but it is a lot more likely to help you out in difficult situations, because it will be based on thoughtful observation rather than on guesswork and rules of thumb.
So where do you start?
This website offers a variety of learning opportunities at all levels, but you may find it useful to learn a few basics first or you may be put off by the complexity of the theory.
So if you want a bit of help with understanding how psychoanalytic thinking applies to practice. Just press here.
Here’s where to go if you want a bit of help with the language of psychoanalytic thinking.
And here's a link to our Site Guide.