Psychosocial Studies is a field of academic research that has existed at UEL since 1985. It is committed to the notion that psychological phenomena and subjective experience are shaped by social, cultural and historical contexts. Psychosocial Studies research also examines the social and cultural dimensions of psychological experience, and the ways in which the psychological realm of fantasy, emotion and desire shape those social and cultural worlds. The Psychosocial Studies research group places a strong emphasis on interdisciplinarity, drawing inspiration from both social sciences and the humanities, including psychoanalysis, sociology, psychology, cultural and media studies, critical theory and feminism. Psychosocial studies also has important links to practice, whether in the areas of psychotherapy, education and social work or in the field of media and culture, where the theories and methods of psychosocial studies research are also applied.
Psychosocial Studies in practice
- Lurraine Jones’ work on diversity is linked to her work as a trustee on the Black Police Association Charity Trust (BPACT) and Heather Price has been working closely with the ‘Trinity Project’, which focuses on vulnerable and marginalised children in the London borough of Newham.
- Some Psychosocial Studies researchers at UEL are also qualified counsellors and psychotherapists and their professional practice also influence and shape their research. For example, Nicola Diamond is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist who also works with victims of torture at the Helen Bamber Foundation. She also keeps up a Private practice, focusing on the body symptomology, rooted in emotional and relational difficulties, and she continues to work and develop a psychosocially informed understanding of body symptom formation in the psychoanalytic context.
- David Jones works closely with The Millfields Unit, which is a medium secure forensic unit in East London. This initiative is funded as part of the ‘Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder Programme’ in order to develop a programme called ‘Psychosocial Perspectives on Working with Personality Disorder’. The work of the unit was built on previous collaborations with The Henderson Hospital and Cassel Hospital.
- The Psychosocial Studies field at UEL provides the collaborative academic links to both the Centre for Psychotherapy in Belfast, which runs an innovative programme in Art Psychotherapy, and the Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education, in Islington, London.
- Angie Voela has made a Leverhulme bid to fund an artist in residence to work with psychosocial studies researchers on the themes of memory, fantasy, culture and identity.
- Candida Yates has collaborated with the University of Roehampton and the Freud Museum to hold short courses for psychotherapists, media practitioners and the general public on the theme of psychoanalysis and popular culture.
In the past six years, the discipline of Psychosocial Studies has received national and international recognition and UEL staff members have been at the forefront of such developments:
- There has been a National Psychosocial Network for more than six years, with representation from many universities, including UEL. This network organizes annual conferences, workshops and meetings, under the guidance of a national steering group, which include representatives from UEL.
- In 2010, UEL held the 3rd, three-day, annual Psychosocial Studies conference with national and international speakers and delegates. In January 2013, the Academy of Social Sciences formally recognised the ‘Association of Psychosocial Studies’ as a Learned Society, and UEL staff members are represented on its Board.
- The Psychosocial Studies field is also represented by a study-group within the British Sociological Association, an initiative, created in part, by UEL Professor of Sociology, Michael Rustin.
The activities of the UEL Psychosocial Studies research group reflect the theoretical and practice-based aspects of the field, including psychosocial research in the areas of education, political culture, cinema and popular culture, crime, sexuality and the body, emotion and the experience of surveillance. The members of the research group publish widely, supervise PhD students, work as consultants and regularly hold research seminars. They have links with a number of social, cultural and therapeutic institutions and their research events, including:
Psychosocial Studies is well represented in academic publication and UEL staff have contributed to this activity both as editors and as authors through publications in monographs, edited anthologies and international peer-reviewed journals: