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Blacker, R. Kurtz, A. Goodwin, A. (2017). An in-depth observational study of an acute psychiatric ward: combining the psychodynamic observational method with thematic analysis to develop understanding of ward culture. Psychoanal. Psychother., 31(1):4-20.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 31(1):4-20

Articles

An in-depth observational study of an acute psychiatric ward: combining the psychodynamic observational method with thematic analysis to develop understanding of ward culture

Rebecca Blacker, Arabella Kurtz and Anne Goodwin

The question of how to create benign organisational cultures in health care is a topic of particular concern in the UK at the present time. The current study aimed to further understanding of complex health care cultures in the National Health Service (NHS), with a focus on an acute adult in-patient psychiatric ward. The psychoanalytic observational method was used for this purpose. The first author conducted six-hour long observation sessions on the ward at weekly intervals, writing detailed process recordings after each observation to take to a supervision group for discussion. The six presentations of observational material and the responses of the supervision group were audiotaped and transcribed. These data were then analysed thematically. The picture that emerged was of a fragile ward environment in which staff appeared fearful of engagement with patients, there was a sense of confusion regarding roles and decision-making processes, and the nursing team felt burdened by responsibility, isolated and anxious about criticism from outside. Contemporary developments within the social defence paradigm are applied to these findings in the context of the intense pressures currently facing staff in the NHS.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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