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.