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Chapter Seven: How do we Keep on Keeping on?

Wilson, Jim Karnac Books ePub

In my career to date, I have worked in local authority social work, the voluntary sector, independent private service provision, and in the National Health Service. Therefore, I have had the opportunity to see from the inside of organisations and their functioning from the perspective of a practitioner as well as from the outside, as visiting consultant trainer, or supervisor. These various positions provide different possibilities to contribute, to challenge, and/or feel the power to comply with, the status quo. As a consultant or visiting lecturer, I can try to contribute from the sidelines, so to speak, as adviser, educator, facilitator, and so on, and to encourage exploratory conversations about matters of ethical importance and creativity. These special settings promote reflection and an opportunity to stand back from the daily pressures and demands of practice.

As a practitioner within an organisation, I am an employee and, therefore, bound by contractual agreement that includes paying me a salary. The organisation calls the tune. I am placed in a relationship to others in my immediate work context who influence, and are influenced by, me. These ongoing social relations in the immediate workplace inform how we conduct our affairs and are shaped by perceived power relations and hierarchical arrangements. I can speak up if I am a consultant more easily than as a practitioner on a short-term contract. If I disagree with an idea a colleague has, I cannot simply walk away as one might do as a visiting trainer. We are caught in the mix of ongoing social relations in a more professionally intimate way. As a visiting lecturer or consultant, I still walk away at the end of the day. So, when we discuss what keeps us going and striving to improve our creativity in practice, my views always need tempering with what is possible in any given context.

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Chapter One: Systemic Humanism and the Ethics of Practice

Wilson, Jim Karnac Books ePub

Systemic humanism and the ethics of practice

The term systemic humanism was coined by me to combine key concepts from systemic family therapy with inspiration drawn from the work of Paulo Freire to shape practice more distinctly as a process of humanisation (Wilson, 2015). “Radical humanism” within systemic practice struck me as a necessary emphasis to counteract dehumanising traits that thwart both practitioner and client in the search for creative possibilities to enrich practice.

Systemic humanism emphasises that a practice be both cognisant of, and actively involved in, opposing oppressive practice. It is rooted in ways of enabling our clients and ourselves to become more active, powerful, and creative within the helping process. It explores ways that practitioners, from whichever profession, can remain curious, creative, and alive to possibilities. This involves a consideration of the values that we enact in the jobs we try to do. Practical applications of systemic practice are enriched by reference to Freire's concept of radical humanism in his philosophy of education, which I have found invaluable in my work as a family therapist.

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Chapter Four: Listening and Responding: Ethical Practices and Constraints

Wilson, Jim Karnac Books ePub

Listening and responding: ethical practices and constraints

A central belief of systemic humanism is the creative potential of every human being to overcome oppressive contexts in their lives: in therapeutic and social practices, this entails challenging features that fail to try to transform human distress into human achievement. The practitioner actively contributes towards this goal, and, in so doing, both client and practitioner become participants in a process of mutual humanisation. The practitioner, like the client, is encouraged to challenge those ideas and ways of acting that constrain options for becoming other than they appear (Holzman, 2009). To do this, the practitioner looks towards therapeutic possibilities in direct work with the clients, as well as to a critique of organisational features and social–political forces that shape organisational procedures and policies. It is, wherever possible, a co-operative endeavour, but one that allows for debate and disagreement as well as consensus.

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Chapter Six: Forces that Push us from Behind

Wilson, Jim Karnac Books ePub

The morning begins with coffee and a chat with some of my colleagues, who are already seated at their computers by 8.15 a.m. A new habit of entering the exact time of arrival and departure has emerged in recent weeks, and a new form of “presentism” has appeared. There is a joke about who gets the prize for being first at their desk each morning. Behind the humour is a feeling of being scrutinised. To “wake up and smell the coffee” has never had such relevance. The temptation is to go straight into the email correspondence, and attend to a never-ending stream of requirements in the “must dos” of administration.

This sets the scene for an increasing number of dedicated practitioners in social care and mental health. The forces that push us from behind is a metaphor for the pressures created by distal processes that have an influence on how we think and function in our jobs and, more generally, in our lives. Fromm sees our awareness of such forces as the first step in altering our circumstances. It is a belief

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Chapter Five: Co-Creative Supervision and Practice: Experiment, Improvise, and Perform

Wilson, Jim Karnac Books ePub

Co-creative supervision and practice: experiment, improvise, and perform

How might practice be enhanced by creating opportunities for greater experimentation? The examples set out here are drawn from my experience of working in the National Health Services in the UK, and had to be negotiated within the strictures of limited time availability and waiting list demands. However, creating space and time to experiment paid dividends in keeping up our morale, mutuality of respect between team colleagues, and energy in trying to “recognise ourselves in the jobs we do”. There is no short-cut to creativity in practice. I hope you find the examples useful in both supervision and in direct practice with your clients/patients. I also hope that you will see this chapter as a further expression of building practice upon the foundational ideas of systemic humanism and creativity discussed earlier. Here, we can explore together how our practice can push beyond the constraints we typically work under, while keeping an eye on doing what is possible.

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