AHRC Research Network, Media and the Inner World:

Impact of Follow on Funding Period 2012-13

 

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1.    CPD Course: Saturday, 22nd of September 2012:  ‘On Communicating and Not Communicating: A Psychodynamic Approach to Using Social Media’, organised by the Media and the Inner World Network and held at the University of Roehampton.

 

This half-day course took a psychosocial and cultural approach to the world of social media. It provided introductory training in the skills required to engage with social media technologies as well as a reflective space in which to consider the ethical and emotional tensions for psychotherapists seeking to promote their practice. Feedback was collected via feedback forms on the day and also 6 months later via questionnaires.

               A majority of 65% came to the CPD course with low skills and confidence in using social media. They classified their skills on an interval scale as ‘1’ or ‘2’ (‘1’ being the lowest level of skills and confidence). 76% wanted to ‘learn more about existing social networking sites’. Part of the questionnaire also asked about the existing usage of social media by the psychotherapists present at the event. 53% merely used the internet and social networking sites to stay in touch with their friends and family or to follow news and current affairs. One participant said in the questionnaire that they ‘came to event to learn more and improve’, another expressed ‘concerns about boundaries, ethics and privacy', a third wished ‘to understand the sociological/psychological uses of these media’ and one wanted find out more about what they called ‘boundaries, ethics, the psychodynamics of social networking.'

Only 17% stated that they were already using social media to professionally promote their practice and clinical activities in order to attract clients. As this last figure shows, there was clearly a need for engaging psychotherapists and clinicians with social media on a professional level and to provide them with a hands-on session in which they could actively explore the world of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. Participants wrote in their questionnaires that they wished to ‘reduce resistance to using these media’, and one said ’I want to learn about the possibilities of using social media to promote the profession of psychotherapy and the value of psychoanalytic thinking as a system of thought‘. Another professional was interested in the ‘facilitation of potential patients' access to my practice.’ One participant hoped that the event would make him reach out to many psychotherapists and psychoanalysts and ‘to encourage the profession to make use of social media.’ Another clinician hoped to gain from the event future opportunities of ‘communicating with other professionals’.

The day was marked by talks and a hands-on session in which the participants were encouraged to explore the world of social media. They were supervised by the Directors of the Media and the Inner World Research Network as well as by PhD students from UEL and Roehampton University.                 

At the end of the event, 72% answered that the course was very useful to them, while only 5% found it ‘not useful at all’. Only 17% placed their skill level at ‘1’ and 28% at ‘2’ on the interval scale about their skills and confidence. Whereas initially 65% had ranked their skills and confidence as low, this number had now decreased to 17%. Compared to their initial scores at the start of the event, it is clear that the day made a positive impact and helped to enhance the participants’ confidence and skills in relation to social media. Participants said that they were now 'less insecure', and one was ‘more aware of privacy issues', and another praised the 'more informed choice' they now had. One participant thought the event had 'made me aware of Twitter's scope', another found it ‘very helpful to have an open discussion of private concerns', and one was happy that the day had ‘given me a more critical perspective' and another realised: 'made me see that I cannot do without knowing more and use them.'

It is evident from these quotes and the statistics taken from the analysed questionnaires that the event had a positive impact and furthered the understanding of social media in the professional sphere of the psychoanalysts and psychotherapists who attended the course.

 

 

3. Visualisation

 

What skills and knowledge do you hope to gain from the course?

  

How would you describe your level of skills and confidence? (before the event)

 

How would you describe your level of skills and confidence? (after the event)

 

 

 

2. Freud Museum Psychoanalysis and Popular Culture short course, November 2012.

This short, five-week course examined the relationship between the media, culture and the inner world by addressing a number of themes related to debates about therapy culture and the emotionalisation of Western media today. The course was attended by adults from a range of professions. Of the 32 attendees, 62% were not members or studying at higher education institutions. This shows that the course that was of an academic nature attracted a mixed audience with a considerable clientele who were not enrolled or based at an HEI. Professions included those of a shipbroker, a lawyer, three consultants, a journalist, two software and web developers and a person working in the fashion industry. This shows the dominance of therapeutic ideas in the media and public sphere and the demand by diverse members of society for learning more about ideas of emotional wellbeing in relation to popular culture and psychoanalysis. These notions, so it seems, matter to everybody. Additionally, the clinical side was also represented within the course’s cohort. Three attendees worked in counselling or as mental health support workers.  A different range of interests brought the attendees to the evening course and 68% said in the questionnaires that were filled out before the course’s first session that they had ‘some knowledge’ of psychoanalysis. We can conclude that psychoanalysis and knowledge thereof has influenced and impacted upon the minds and sectors of different fields of contemporary society and that there is a also both a desire and a professional need on the part of these groups for greater knowledge and understanding of the media using psychoanalytic tools of analysis.  

91% of the attendees were not members of the Freud Museum, thus they did not stem from the museum’s traditional academic and clinical audience. It is safe to say that the course managed to recruit and reach out beyond its immediate academic environment as 37% of the attendees had never visited the Freud Museum before.  In addition, 79% had never previously enrolled on a course offered by the Freud Museum  and they  made use of the museum’s educational programme for the first time and in order to specifically attend the course offered by the Media and the Inner World Research Network. 90% hoped to attend the course in order to enhance their educational and personal development.

When the course was finished, the participants filled out questionnaires about their experiences and how their levels of knowledge had changed. 85% stated that their level of knowledge of psychoanalysis had increased in comparison to the beginning of the course. An attendee found the course ‘helpful in thinking through constructs, had no previous knowledge in this way.’ Another registered a      ‘general increase in knowledge and an ability to think about subjects beyond technical aspects.‘                                                          

The feedback was very positive and all participants reported that they had enjoyed learning about the course’s topics. 8 regarded the knowledge they had gained as particularly useful for their professional life, 12 attendees found the course useful for their personal life and for 9 the course provided an addition in knowledge that was useful for their studies in higher education. A participant expressed in this context: “I work in sales. A good sales conversation these days is nothing less than a therapy session. The 'dumping of woes and burdens' on to a rescuing 'father figure'.”

When asked about the usefulness of the knowledge gained on the course, they all answered in different ways. One participant wrote: ‘As a father of a 14 year old girl; husband and slightly more enlightened male! I need to evaluate myself and my family about themes in popular culture/psychoanalytic theory.’ One said the course had made him ‘more thoughtful about political culture / trends.’ For another, the sessions had created ‘an additional depth of thinking.’ A member of the evening course was now able ‘to understand the various relationships’ between popular culture and psychoanalysis. Other testimonials included: ‘It [the course] has increased my knowledge of psychoanalysis and which will enrich my future studies….It will be useful in understanding better the social life around me.’ Another, referred to the way the course had enabled him to ‘adopt a more creative and deeper reading of aspects of popular culture. Better understanding of psychoanalytic application in a contemporary framework.’   45% of all participants were of the opinion that the course had satisfied their personal interests in a ‘very good’ way, and 25% regarded the satisfaction of their personal interests as ‘excellent’. A participant wrote in the questionnaire that he personally found the sessions useful ‘just to make interesting conversation and it [the course] has encouraged me to read more around the subject.’ In terms of educational development, 25% rated the course as ‘good’, 40% as ‘very good’ and 15% as ‘excellent’.

With regards to professional development of the participants, 30% viewed the course’s sessions as ‘good’, 35% as ‘very good’ and 15% as ‘excellent’. A participant remarked on the usefulness of the knowledge on media and psychoanalysis that the course had taught: ‘I will pass on some thoughts from the course to colleagues (in PR).’, another remarked: ‘Guide my personal study, sound smarter at dinner parties, appreciate my personal films.’ One attendee expressed that the course had helped them ‘to understand the people who represent us and the people who follow them.’, for another the sessions had been useful ‘for creative writing and work, for professional writing, as consumer of popular culture.’ The topics had enabled one participant ‘to think with a clinician's viewpoint’ and a course member felt that the sessions ‘will encourage me to be more reflective and make connections’. Another mused on the course’s different topics: ‘Perhaps they will make me more thoughtful in observing what I am watching, reading in the media’.

It is evident from these testimonials and the statistics provided, that the course has made a positive contribution to the personal and professional lives of the attendees. After the course had finished, 95% of participants would recommend the Freud Museum and join another course offered in the future. The course thus made a significant contribution to the Freud Museum as a cultural institution. 60% were even thinking about becoming members of the museum. The course not only managed to attract a broad segment of people from different backgrounds, but also made a difference in their personal, educational and professional development.

 

              

BEFORE:

What are the reasons for joining this course?

                                                                                     

 

Are you a member of the Freud Museum?

                                                                                     

 

How often have you been enrolled on a course at the Freud Museum before?

                                                                                                    

 

AFTER:

Has your level of knowledge…?

                          

 

In what contexts will the course’s content about psychoanalysis be useful to you?

                          

 

In what contexts will the course’s content about the media and popular culture be useful to you?

                          

 

How would you rate the course against promoting your professional development?

 

Will you visit the Freud Museum more frequently?

 

 

 

 

Appendix

1. Draft email to send to participants

 

 

Dear ….,

 

 

On Saturday, 22nd of September 2012 you attended the event ‘On Communicating and Not Communicating: A Psychodynamic Approach to Using Social Media’ which was organised by the Media and the Inner World Network and held at the University of Roehampton. We are interested in knowing the kind of impact that this event has had upon your professional practice and would be grateful if you could give us some feedback on your experience some months after the event, and whether you have subsequently used more social media such as Facebook, or Twitter.

 

1.     Reflecting back on the event, has anything changed about how you use the Internet and social media since then? If so, please give details below.

 

 

 

2.     Did the training session change your attitude to the relevance of having an online presence?

 

 

3.      Have you created a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter profile, or are you thinking of doing so?

 

 

4.     Have you subsequently created your own website, or are you thinking of doing so?

 

 

5.     Was this online activity for personal or professional use or both?

 

 

6.     Do you feel that this activity has been a success?

 

 

 

We are compiling a report on the impact of some of the Media and the Inner World events and your feedback is very much appreciated.

 

With thanks and kind regards,

 

 

Candida Yates and Caroline Bainbridge

www.miwnet.org