Unconscious Processes in Multi-Agency Partnership Working For Protecting and Safeguarding Children: A Psychoanalytic Examination of the Conception and Development of A Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (Mash) Project in an Inner London Local Authority
This study was set within the context of child protection and safeguarding in an inner city local authority. Its main aim was to explore the unconscious processes experienced by organizational representatives when co-located to provide multi- agency partnership work in children services. It acknowledged that a lot has been written about the rational challenges to multi-agency work. It then took a different dimension which focussed on the ‘beneath the surface’ issues in partnership work. The main research question was; whether an understanding and consideration of the emotional and the unconscious processes in organisations is the missing link in strengthening multi agency partnership working in safeguarding and protecting vulnerable children and their families.\ud Qualitative data from a two year ethnographic study is presented which was obtained using three research techniques; psychoanalytic informed participant observation, interviews and institutional documentary sources. The observations and narratives from the research participants provided a framework for exploring emotional experiences of being ‘an individual, a professional and an organizational being’ within an organization, interacting between and amongst others in a group and different subgroups.\ud The research confirmed the presence of unconscious processes at work which centred on individual and organizational defences. It revealed that multi-agency partnerships are often the context for a range of complex interactions between and amongst individual, professional and organizational aspects of working together. It also confirmed that collaborative structures need to foster boundary negotiation capabilities in order to sustain the survival of the partnerships. Traditional organisational and professional roles and general government prescriptions also need to adapt to new and challenging social problems and come up with context specific solutions.