Interprofessional Research Between Social Work, Biographical Analysis and Psychoanalysis with Young Women Who Experienced Violence in Their Childhood and Adolescence

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:05
Location: Seminarraum Geschichte 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Dana PAJKOVIC, University of Applied Sciences St. Poelten, Austria
How can we succeed in interviewing persons that are often out of reach for social scientists? For my doctoral thesis I interviewed young women who had experienced violence in their families at an early age and whose later childhood and adolescence were marked by trajectories of suffering through violence, drug abuse, health problems, difficulties in school and at work, as well as in their personal relationships. Establishing contact and a sense of trust with my interview partners was based on the knowledge of concepts of social work and counselling experience in combination with the methodology of biographical narrative interviewing. Psychoanalytic theory, in particular on traumatic processes, adolescence, language and drug use was essential for the analysis of the interviews. Professional experience as social worker facilitated the working alliance with the interviewees and also their narration, as trust could be built through knowledge of the interviewees’ living situation, an understanding of their migrant and language background and also of the challenges drug users face in their relations with their partners and families. Communicative skills from social work practice were a precondition for conducting biographical narrative interviews. Psychoanalytic knowledge such as the theory of adolescence and trauma theory was decisive for case reconstruction and developing theoretical findings. The insights of trauma theory were also essential for understanding how severe events were reported seemingly lacking emotions and for how intensely the traumatic processes influenced the interviewees’ lives. Holding on to the symbolic structure of the interview setting was thus only feasible because of the psychoanalytic knowledge of trauma theory, transference and countertransference. However, the biographical theory of process structures was essential in recognizing how the young women attempted to gain control of their life situation and develop agency.