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Chaplin, R. (2019). Process facilitation in psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and social work: by Sylvia O’Neill, Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge, 2019, 179 pp., £27.99 (paperback), ISBN 978-1-138-59109-7. Psychoanal. Psychother., 33(2):145-149.

(2019). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 33(2):145-149

Process facilitation in psychoanalysis, psychotherapy and social work: by Sylvia O’Neill, Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge, 2019, 179 pp., £27.99 (paperback), ISBN 978-1-138-59109-7

Rachel Chaplin

At first glance, Process Facilitation in Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy and Social Work appears to be a modest work, its headings and summaries suggesting almost that we might read it as a textbook. But in fact this is an ambitious book, both theoretically and politically, aiming to intervene in contemporary social work practice. O’Neill finds in the French analyst Jean-Luc Donnet’s conceptualisation of the ‘analytic site’, and the way that the ‘quasi-autonomous’ psychoanalytic process is set in motion, a model that has the potential for ‘generalised application across widely differing spheres of practice’ (p. 1). O’Neill outlines her project:

This book can claim to be the first to demonstrate on clear theoretical grounds, as well as to illustrate in practice, that collaborative social work engagement depends simply on the client being able to encounter in the social work ‘site’, in a meaningful way that he can introject (take in) the ordinary social work frame of reference (rather than an imitation of psychotherapy). Failure to understand this largely accounts for social work’s widespread disillusion with psychodynamic theory and practice, a misunderstanding which this book sets out to counter. (p. 2)

O’Neill, whose first training was in social work, has as her central task the development of a theory that would support a particular model of social work. But the psychoanalytic practitioner should not be put off: not only is half the book about psychoanalytic practice, but there is much to be learned by the psychotherapist in the second half of the book devoted to social work.

[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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