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Learning about emotions: the Tavistock approach

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This paper examines the recent emergence of emotions and their regulation as a topic in the social sciences. It suggests that methods of emotional learning which follow from this interest need to be specific to the different occupational contexts in which work with emotions takes place. It describes the conception of emotional learning that has been developed at the Tavistock Clinic, an NHS institution that provides services and training in mental health, in London over several decades. This conception has evolved to enable professional workers in the mental health, educational and social service fields to understand and contain anxiety - both their own and that of their clients - in their work situations. A number of specific methods of emotional learning are described - infant and young child observation, work discussion, personal analysis, clinical supervision, group-relations events - and their theoretical and practical interconnections are explained.
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Keywords: emotions; emotional learning; psychodynamic training; infant observation; work discussion; psychoanalytic empiricism; anxiety; containment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Social Sciences, Media, and Cultural Studies University of East London Docklands Campus 4-6 University Way London E16 2RD, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2003-09-01

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