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Title: Child psychotherapists' fantasies about working with 'cultural difference' : a psychosocial exploration
Author: Fleming, Anna
ISNI:       0000 0004 6499 2520
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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Child psychotherapists regularly find themselves working across ‘cultural difference’, yet this is given little thought in trainings, be it in supervision, teaching or in the training analysis. A growing body of literature in the psychotherapy professions emphasises the great anxiety provoked by ‘cultural difference’ and ensuing defences that are ordinarily employed by the individual; this literature identifies an urgent need for psychotherapists to find more consistently thoughtful ways to engage with issues of race, culture and social class differences. Using Bourdieu’s concept of ‘habitus’ to build a working definition of ‘cultural difference’ and a psychosocial methodology, I interviewed eight child psychotherapists to ask what fantasies about working with ‘cultural difference’ we might hold. Thematic analysis identified two fantasy structures: ‘difference as dangerous’, in which ‘cultural difference’ is variously associated with all kinds of badness, including sexual perversion, violence, child abuse, neglect and shame; and ‘the profession in peril’, in which it was felt that the child psychotherapy profession is threatened by ‘cultural differences’, both from without and from within. Discourse analysis examined two further fantasies: ‘neutrality’ in the therapist, in which the therapist is imagined to transcend ‘cultural difference’; and ‘the location of difference’, in which it was imagined that one person in a pairing contained all the ‘difference’ and its negative associations, while the other is felt to be ‘normal’. These four fantasies show how powerful projections are able to enter the consulting room. There is an urgent need for the child psychotherapy profession to give thought to ‘cultural difference’ in order to avoid reproducing prejudiced stances; this becomes imperative as issues of ‘cultural difference’ become more politically explosive. ‘Cultural difference’ was found to be a ‘slippery’ term, which carries different meanings at different times.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available