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Title: Contact supervision with looked after children : a psychosocial exploration into role construction, negoiation and wider implications
Author: Crasnow, Eva
ISNI:       0000 0004 5917 1541
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis investigates the lived experience of contact supervisors in the contact encounter. Contact supervisors and managers from five London local authorities participated in ten semi-structured interviews. Data were thematically and discursively analysed paying attention to issues of performativity of text and disciplinary power. A psychoanalytically informed analysis was also applied to add further complexity to the psychosocial investigation of the ‘warp and weft’ of the psychological and the social in contact supervision. Two core themes were identified. The Cinderella Service core theme postulated that the role of the contact supervisor is necessarily fractured and conflicted, as manifested in mutually enforcing and destabilising subject positions active in storylines of Rags to Riches and Doing the Dirty Work. Supervisors maintained panoptic systems of enclosed discourses, and concurrently resisted these through taking up alternative relational positions with regards to the triad of social care system/supervisor/family. The themes of rivalry and exclusion were voiced through the metaphor of early oedipal psychic functioning which enabled an understanding of the dynamics of unresolved mourning and loss at the heart of the contact encounter. The Gut Feelings/Fine Lines core theme presented the role of contact supervisor as a meeting point for competing moral dilemmas that are created and maintained through shifting relational experiences. These were articulated through the storylines Here-for-a-reason, Same-as-us and Parent-as-child that positioned and counter positioned supervisors in relation to families. The first order positioning of blame drew on neoliberal discourses of parenting, class and gender. The moral dilemmas faced by contact supervisors were formulated as being generated in part by a struggle to integrate dynamics of ambivalence. In discussion of the findings, contact was characterised by degrees of paralysis, active in structural, moral and emotional interrelated dimensions. This aspect of supervised contact enabled an exploration of the present challenges in contact and the implications of this research project on supervised contact design and practice. It is argued that because of the growth of contact supervision resulting from the increase in children in care it is urgent that this under-researched area should be studied and understood as a distinctive field of practice. This study offers a contribution of lived experience, psychosocially theorised to meet the lag between policy and practice. It stands as a call to focus on the contact encounter as the site for policy development derived from experience, respectful intervention for families rooted in relationships with supervisors and a validation and recognition of delicate and dedicated contact work.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available