Psychosocial studies and the practice of psychology: a South African perspective

View author details View Less
  • 1 Department of Psychology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, , South Africa
Restricted access
Get eTOC alerts
Rights and permissions Cite this article

In this paper I explore the relationship between psychosocial studies and the practice of psychology, with a view to considering how each might enhance the other. The first part of this paper reviews existing work within psychosocial studies on applied practice internationally. Thereafter, the ways in which psychosocial studies has been taken up in the South African context is briefly described, before turning to a contextual overview of the status of applied psychology in this context. I argue that, given South Africa’s high levels of poverty and unequal access to mental health resources, novel ways of providing psychological services is needed and this is where psychosocial studies and a responsive practice of applied psychology might be enlivened together. The second part of this paper therefore describes a service-learning course for fourth year psychology students, and caregivers and their children with physical disabilities, as an exemplar of this responsive psychosocial practice. The teaching philosophy that guides the delivery of the course as well as the course content are described, both underpinned by a psychosocial framework. For the purposes of this paper, I focus on two major tenets of this psychosocial framework and how these are articulated in the service learning. I argue that a mutually beneficial relationship exists in bringing together applied psychological practice, in its less traditional sense, and a psychosocial studies that draws on psychoanalysis in particular, illuminating that which is surprising, possibly ‘unconscious’, to both.

  • Bantjes, J. (2016) Expanding the terrain of psychoanalytic practice to diverse group settings in South Africa: possibilities, challenges and future directions, Psycho-analytic Psychotherapy in South Africa, 24(2): 79102.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Baradon, T. and Bain, K. (2016) Interfacing infant mental health knowledge systems: reflections on the narratives of lay home visitors’ experiences of learning and applying relational concepts of development in a South African intervention program, Infant Mental Health Journal, 37(4): 42439. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Baraitser, L. (2008) Maternal encounters: The ethics of interruption, London: Routledge.

  • Cooper, P.J., Tomlinson, M., Swartz, L., Landman, M., Molteno, C., Stein, A., McPherson, K. and Murray, L. (2009) Improving quality of mother–infant relationship and infant attachment in socioeconomically deprived community in South Africa: randomised controlled trial, British Medical Journal, 338: b974.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Day Sclater, S., Jones, D.W., Price, H. and Yates, C. (eds) (2009) Emotion: New psychosocial perspectives, Basingstoke and New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Diamond, N. (2009) Between the body and social trauma: working with the aftermath of torture, in S. Day Sclater, D.W. Jones, H. Price and C. Yates (eds) Emotion: New psychosocial perspectives, Basingstoke and New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 22741.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Edwards, R., Gillies, V. and Horsley, N. (2016) Early intervention and evidence-based policy and practice: framing and taming, Social Policy & Society, 15(1): 110.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Froggett, L., Ramvi, E. and Davies, L. (2015) Thinking from experience in psychosocial practice: reclaiming and teaching ‘use of self’, Journal of Social Work Practice, 29(2): 13350. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Frosh, S. (1999) The politics of psychoanalysis, London: Macmillan.

  • Frosh, S. (2003) Psychosocial studies and psychology: is a critical approach emerging?, Human Relations, 56: 154767. doi:

  • Frosh, S. (2010) Psychoanalysis outside the clinic: Interventions in psychosocial studies, Basingstoke and New York, NY: Macmillan International Higher Education.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Frosh, S. (2016) Towards a psychosocial psychoanalysis, American Imago, 73(4): 46982. doi:

  • Frosh, S. (2018) Rethinking psychoanalysis in the psychosocial, Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, 23: 514. doi:

  • Frost, K., Esterhuizen, M. and Bain, K. (2012) ‘My baby cries for nothing’: mentalisation challenges in the face of negative countertransference when working with mothers who struggle to hold their babies in mind, Psycho-analytic Psychotherapy in South Africa, 20(1): 69101.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Frost, L. (2008) Why teach social work students psychosocial studies?, Social Work Education, 27(3): 24361. doi:

  • Grut, L., Mji, G., Braathen, S.H. and Ingstad, B. (2012) Accessing community health services: challenges faced by poor people with disabilities in a rural community, African Journal of Disability, 1(1): 17. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hinshelwood, R.D. (2009) Do unconscious processes affect educational institutions?, Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 14: 50922. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hook, D. (2013) (Post)apartheid conditions: Psychoanalysis and social formation, Basingstoke and New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Jones, D.W. (2009) A psychosocial understanding of personality disorder: the historical problem of moral insanity, in S. Day Sclater, D.W. Jones, H. Price and C. Yates (eds) Emotion: New psychosocial perspectives, Basingstoke and New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 21226.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Karagiannopoulou, E. (2011) Revisiting learning and teaching in higher education: a psychodynamic perspective, Psychodynamic Practice, 17(1): 521. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kendall, J.C. (1991) Combining service and learning: An introduction for cooperative education professionals, Journal of Cooperative Education, 27: 926.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kretchmar, M.D. (2001) Service learning in a general psychology class: description, preliminary evaluation, and recommendations, Teaching of Psychology, 28(1): 510. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Krigger, K.W. (2006) Cerebral palsy: an overview, American Family Physician, 73(1): 91100.

  • Kruger, L. (2016) When virtuous (‘deugsame’) women flee: a reflection on dread and flight in group therapy in one South African setting, Psycho-analytic Psychotherapy in South Africa, 25(1): 3578.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lareau, A. (2000) Social class and the daily lives of children: a study from the United States, Childhood, 7(2): 15571. doi:

  • Long, W. (2013) Rethinking ‘relevance’: South African psychology in context, History of Psychology, 16(1): 1935. doi:

  • Lund, C., Petersen, I., Kleintjes, S. and Bhana, A. (2012) Mental health services in South Africa: taking stock, African Journal of Psychiatry, 15(6): 4025. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Obuaku-Igwe, C.C. (2015) Health inequality in South Africa: a systematic review, African Sociological Review/Revue Africaine de Sociologie, 19(2): 96131.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pretorius, B. (2017) A narrative ethnography of service learning: observing and documenting the hindrances and facilitators of an attachment relationship between a child with a disability and their caregiver, unpublished honours research project, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Richards, B., Jones, D.W., Yates, C., Price, H. and Day Sclater, S. (2009) Conclusions: psychosocial studies – a therapeutic project?, in S. Day Sclater, D.W. Jones, H. Price and C. Yates (eds) Emotion: New psychosocial perspectives, Basingstoke and New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, pp 24254.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Saville Young, L. (2013) Becoming other to oneself: misreading the researcher through Lacanian discourse analysis, in I. Parker and D. Pavon-Cuellar (eds) Lacan, discourse, event: New analyses of textual indeterminacy, London: Routledge, pp 27990.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Saville Young, L. (2014) Psychoanalytic training in South Africa: attending to the marginalia, Psycho-analytic Psychotherapy in South Africa, 22(2): 5372.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Saville Young, L. and Berry, J. (2016) Slipping and holding minds: a psychosocial analysis of maternal subjectivity in relation to childhood disability, African Journal of Disability, 5(1): 266. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Saville Young, L. and Frosh, S. (2018) Psychoanalysis in narrative research, in K. Stamenova and R.D. Hinshelwood (eds) Methods of research into the unconscious: Applying psychoanalytic ideas to social sciences, Abingdon and New York, NY: Routledge, pp 199210.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schneider, M. (2006) Disability and the environment, in B. Watermeyer, L. Swartz, T. Lorenzo, M. Schneider and M. Priestley (eds) Disability and social change: A South African agenda, Cape Town, South Africa: HSRC Press, pp 818.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Seedat, M. and Lazarus, S. (2011) Community psychology in South Africa: origins, developments, and manifestations, Journal of Community Psychology, 39(3): 24157. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Seu, I.B. (2008) ‘Everybody is welcome, but…’: talking of emotions and with emotions about refugees; a psychosocial discursive analysis, Annual Review of Critical Psychology, 6: 7188.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stevens, G., Duncan, N. and Hook, D. (eds) (2013) Race, memory and the apartheid archive: Towards a transformative psychosocial praxis, Johannesburg, South Africa: Wits University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stewart, A. (2017) Exploring the supporters and hindrances of the attachment relationship between the caregiver and their child with disability in the context of a service learning programme: a narrative ethnography, unpublished honours research project, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Van Harmelen, M. (2017) Ethnography of service learning in Grahamstown East: a rich description of the social environmental facilitators and barriers to quality of life for a caregiver and their child with a physical disability, unpublished honours research project, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Watermeyer, B. and Swartz, L. (2008) Conceptualising the psycho-emotional aspects of disability and impairment: the distortion of personal and psychic boundaries, Disability & Society, 23(6): 599610. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Young, C. and Saville Young, L. (2019) Comparing clinical and counselling psychologists’ practitioner demographics, key activities, theoretical orientations, values, and career satisfaction: a contribution to the scopes of practice debate, South African Journal of Psychology, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0081246318823188.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 1 Department of Psychology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, , South Africa

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 17 17 17
Full Text Views 17 17 1
PDF Downloads 12 12 3

Altmetrics

Dimensions