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Editorial : Special issue: Psychodynamic and systems theories perspectives on residential child care

Steckley, Laura (2018) Editorial : Special issue: Psychodynamic and systems theories perspectives on residential child care. Journal of Social Work Practice, 32 (4). pp. 365-372. ISSN 1465-3885

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Abstract

Welcome to this special issue on psychodynamic and systems theories perspectives on residential child care. Psychodynamic in fluences have been waning over the last several decades, both generally (Shaver & Mikulincer, 2005) and in residential child care settings (Mann, 2003; Sharpe, 2006). Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, has gone from being equated with Copernicus and Darwin in popular magazines of the 1950s (Menand, 2017) to currently being depicted as a cocaine-addicted charlatan who falsified his case studies in a current, popular biography (Crews, 2017). Behaviourism and social learning theory have become more prominent (Shaver & Mikulincer, 2005 ), both of which offer a more positivist interpretation of human nature (Moyn, 2016). Yet there is a strong, international consensus regarding the centrality of relationships in providing good residential child care (Kendrick, Steckley, & McPheat, 2011), and neither behavioural nor social learning theories offer much illumination for making sense of how mind-bogglingly difficult these relationships can be. Practitioners need support to ask and tentatively answer two, fundamental questions: ‘what is happening for the young person in order to make this relationship work and what is happening for me, the carer in order that this relationship works?’ (Sharpe, Daniel, & Degregorio, 2007). Psychodynamic and systems theories offer such support.