Jane is a woman in her late thirties who has suffered from mental and physical health problems for many years. My involvement with Jane, as a mental health social worker based in a Community Mental Health Team has lasted for approximately five years. This chapter is an overview of my work with Jane and uses a transcript of a recent meeting to illustrate certain key points. The chapter also reflects my particular interest in psychoanalytic theory. Having begun my career working with children and families and moved on to adult mental health, I have long been convinced of the link between early childhood experiences and disturbances in adult life. Further training in the application of psychoanalytic ideas has reinforced my belief that early patterns laid down in response to childhood events continue to have a powerful and often unconscious impact on later relationships and on one’s sense of self. This psychodynamic perspective is intended to compliment some of the more structural critiques outlined in this book and aims to forefront the emotional work that is part of all critical best practice (CBP). The critical framework used to analyse practice in this chapter also integrates psychoanalytical ideas with critical social theory and so recognises the importance of contextualising individual experience within the structures of statutory social work and the mental health system.
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