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Interpersonal understanding, empathic attitude and ethnographic epoché in Social Psychiatry and recovery-oriented practices: Shared decision making, closeness and distance in the professional relationship
Malmö University, Faculty of Health and Society (HS), Department of Social Work (SA).
2021 (English)In: The annual congress of Nordic Educational Research Association (NERA) 3–5 November 2021 at University of Southern Denmark in Odense, 2021Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The background for this paper is in part due to my own experience in participating in phenomenological empathy training, both IRL and in an online setting. I have consequently applied the skills sharpened in that training in professional social psychiatry, both IRL and in online meetings with clients.  This paper aims to show how a phenomenologically grounded theory of empathy can be used as a means to achieve a close interpersonal relationship that supports shared decision making and recovery from mental health problems. This framework can also serve as a way to uphold and preserve a professional and emotional distance in that relationship. First, the basics for shared decision making and recovery-oriented practice is briefly described. Second, the notion of second person perspectivity and the “we-relation”, together with the phenomenological term epoché, serves as a background for the possibility of performing a specific kind of epoché to actively bracket presuppositions and notions taken for granted to instead gain a focus on the meaning of the other’s experience and to show that this is a skill that is possible to train. That is: a special kind of intentionality directed toward the other´s intentionality. This training can take place both in an IRL face-to-face setting and in an online context. Third, the active aim to assume the empathic attitude gives the necessary focus and paves the way for the passive ethnographic epoché that allows for an exploration of the other’s personal world that constitutes the context for meaning. Together with the other and within a Schutzian “we-relation” and in a we-intentionality, it is then possible to explore the personal world of the other to gain a mutual understanding of the possibilities for an individual recovery process that also supports shared decision making, with a clear point of departure in the other’s first-person perspective. Due to the Covid pandemic a lot of the interpersonal relations in which the empathic attitude and ethnographic epoché plays a part has been taking place in an online context and that poses challenges and a change in how the interpersonal relationship is constituted, especially if it’s the first time meeting a certain person. However, by actively training to assume the empathic attitude, we can increase the possibilities for a professional “we-relation” and minimize the risk for emotional contagion and too much emotional compassion, even in an online context. Altogether this is a skill that can be trained, a skill that can increase the possibility of a closer and deeper interpersonal understanding in all interpersonal and professional relationships and thus be of value to all recovery-oriented practices. In this way, the notions of first person perspectivity, subjectivity and intersubjectivity can be restored to its rightful status in the field of social psychiatry. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2021.
Keywords [en]
empathy, applied phenomenology, we-relation, shared decision making
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Health and society
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-50353OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mau-50353DiVA, id: diva2:1640349
Conference
The annual congress of Nordic Educational Research Association (NERA) 3–5 November 2021 at University of Southern Denmark in Odense
Available from: 2022-02-24 Created: 2022-02-24 Last updated: 2022-02-24Bibliographically approved

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Stigmar, John

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