Supervision arrangements: methodological experiences and (in)decisions on researching affective entanglements

Georgios Kesisoglou and Philia Issari

Recommended citation: Kesisoglou, G., and Issari, P. (2019). ‘Supervision arrangements: methdological experiences and (in)decisions on researching affective entanglements’, entanglements, 2(1): 41-58.

 

 

Abstract

In our submission, we explore a set of (in)decisions coming from the first author’s expérience in the supervision arrangements of humanitarian professionals employed by N.G.Os in Greece to provide mental health care for refugees and migrants. Drawing on a fieldwork example from a postdoctoral research project on the affective/discursive practices of mental health professionals, we aim to highlight a multimodal way to analyse emergent affective entanglements as situated practices. In our example, we use an emotion episode during the first day of fieldwork, where the supervision discussion revolved around the accounts, affects and proposals of the participants on the organisational mess created the previous day in the N.G.Os healthcare services by a refugee: she did not receive her prescription, as she requested, so she exploded and created a fuss. This incident affected all the participants, so they brought it forth in the supervision discussion. Through this episode, we explore the meaningful multimodal integration of data: the depiction of the material arrangement of the supervision through photographs, the aural data coming from the soundscape created through the digital recording, the textual data coming from the transcription of the recorded supervision interaction, and last but not least, a pitch analysis of the emergent and in situ voicing of an affective/discursive practice of indignation by a participant. In this way, we aim to advance a way to infuse some multi-modal thinking on the critical discursive psychological analysis of affective/discursive practices.

 

 

In the following contribution to the journal, we will experiment with a first-person account of an experience in the first day of fieldwork. We opt for this account in order to highlight the immersion and attunement in the field of study; nevertheless, we have to note that this expérience article comes out of the postdoctoral fieldwork of the first author, while the second author supervised this project and contributed by suggesting links, interstices and fruitful theoretical positionings. So, I  – Georgios, the first author – found myself interested in the supervision practices of mental health practitioners working with refugees in Greece. In particular, I am interested in the ways the affects and/or emotions of the professionals are performed, articulated and managed in a group supervision setting. After some rejections by NGOs and supervisors, I managed to be granted access to participate as an observer and digitally record the biweekly supervision meetings of an NGO providing medical, mental health and psycho-social services to refugees in Athens, Greece. So, in this article, we will draw on an emotional episode at the first day of fieldwork, in order to discuss heuristic matters regarding the messy multimodality of studying situated affect as entanglement.

 

Matter of Concern, Matters of Supervision

To position myself as the first author’s voice, I come from a critical social psychological academic background, having used critical discursive psychological analysis (Bozatzis, 2009; Wetherell, 1998) to study young professionals’ accounts of work precarity; I have also trained and I am practising as a post-structural family therapist for 6 years now, in Athens, Greece, in a chronotope of recession and austerity. Many colleagues, political activists and engaged practitioners, employed in the refugee regime[1] of Greece, have shared stories about their feelings of distress, their exhaustion, their helplessness. Mental health practitioners working with refugees, find themselves in a somewhat fragile, but privileged position of having to professionally manage their empathetic feelings towards the refugee recipients of their services, in order to sustain them in their forced confinement in a country they would rather leave for Northern Europe. Ticktin (2011), as well as Pedwell (2012, 2014), suggest that empathy, along with compassion, pity, sympathy and other such sentiments form the basis of humanitarian antipolitics, propagating a (professionalised) depolitisation of moral agency in the context of neoliberal arrangements of international aid and development (Agier, 2016, 2008; Fassin, 2012). Empathy is in essence, an individualised, professional skill and tool of mental health practitioners, exercised in therapeutic training sessions, an affective (ethical) technology (Kirtsoglou & Anastasopoulos, 2018).

 

The existing literature on mental health professionals working with refugees (eg. Cieslak et al., 2014) acknowledges that exposure to accounts and narratives of trauma on an ongoing basis can have significant negative effects on both physical and psychological well-being. Terms used to describe these effects include compassion fatigue, vicarious traumatisation, secondary traumatisation, empathic stress, burnout, and traumatic counter-transference. Such concepts have been used interchangeably in the literature, and they are suggestive of a ‘pathological or deficit model’ (Papadopoulos & Hildebrand, 1997) discourse. Nevertheless, the importance of arrangements and frameworks of supervision for mental health practitioners working with refugees is strongly advocated in the literature (Schweitzer, van Wyk & Murray, 2015; Robinson, 2013; Guhan & Liebling-Kalifani, 2011).

 

Supervision has been defined theoretically as a structured relationship between a supervisor and supervisee with the goal to help the supervisee gain the attitudes, skills, and knowledge needed to be a responsible and effective therapist (Morgan & Sprenkle, 2007). Usually in supervision there is a double focus (Bertrando & Gilli, 2010). In the first place, there is a focus on the case, where the supervisor is expected to provide case-specific reflections and recommendations. Secondly, there is a focus on the supervisee’s development as a professional: this involves the facilitation of the development of skills, competences, and insights. Finding a balance between these two foci is essential for the supervisor (Rober, 2017). Supervision is a core component of providing services to people in distress, promoting reflection, support and evidence-based expertise. I will conceptualise the practice of supervision as an affective arrangement that is purposeful and situated, in this context, to manage the matters of empathic concern of mental health professionals. This concept of the affective arrangement by Slaby, Mühlhoff & Wüschner (2017, p. 2) is “an analytical tool—provisional and open-textured yet sufficiently determinate—to help get a grip on complex inter- or intra-actional settings in which affect looms large”. According to the same authors, the affective arrangements are heterogeneous, dynamic and relational ensembles comprising of persons, things, artifacts, spaces, discourses, behaviours, and expressions of which are continuously in flux. Affect—in the form of dynamic tangles of affective relations—is the vital core of an affective arrangement, it is what links all participant components and agents and what provisionally demarcates the overall formation from its surroundings (Slaby, Mühlhoff & Wüschner, 2017)

 

Supervision as an Affective Arrangement

In the case of my fieldwork, a supervision arrangement necessarily involves the participants employed in the NGO (who are doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists, cultural mediators), the person employed in the role of the supervisor (a psychiatrist with psychoanalytic training), but also the building and the room the supervision takes place (presented in the following photographs), the wireless network infrastructure, the chairs, the tables, the notebooks (if any), the air-conditioners, the water bottles and cans, the time slot contracted in the calendar of the professionals (around 2 hours), the paper sheet where people sign their presence, as well as the thorny issues from their professional practice participants choose to bring forth, emote and debate. Thus, according to Slaby, Mühlhoff & Wüschner (2017, p. 3) an affective arrangement is a “material-discursive formation as part of which affect is patterned, channeled, and modulated in recurrent and repeatable ways”. Within the contracted, programmed timespace of the supervision arrangement, the ongoing, “live” affective relations constitute zones of higher relative intensity compared to what is outside.

 

Slaby, Mühlhoff & Wüschner (2017, p. 4) point out that affective arrangements can be approached from two distinct vantage points, firstly that of an organizational set-up (a number of concrete elements specifically arranged to approach a certain functional architecture). I will explore this point by discussing the photographs in the section below. The second point would be that of the intensive processuality of affect, its ongoing dynamic, played out either as an overall atmospheric tonality or as characteristic patterns of affecting and being affected. In the following sections, I will pinpoint the atmospheric tonality issue by drawing on the recorded soundscape as data; I will also briefly address the further point of the characteristic affective patterns by drawing on the discursive and tonal data of the emotion episode.

 

I will document the socio-material settings of the affective arrangement of the supervision, by using three photographs taken at my first day of fieldwork. My objective is to highlight the function of these settings to pattern power with affect. In Figure 1, the building where the supervision sessions take place is depicted, rented by the NGO in the dodgy South side of Omonoia square, downtown Athens. The building hosts medical and administrative services, as well as the conference room where the sessions take place. It is an old, neo-classical style building, with a backyard used as a car parking space by the NGO. It is one of the ‘official’ sites of the NGO, serving as headquarters, hence the function of the conference room, whereas it is not the main work site of the participants in the supervision (they work daily in a nearby building).

 

Figure 1

 

 

Figure 2

 

Figure 2 shows the conference room where the supervision sessions take place, in the first floor of the aforementioned building. A room with an official feel to it, clean and tidy, with new leather furniture, intended to cater as a space for discussions, meetings, training sessions (hence the whiteboard) as well as the supervision sessions. The oval conference table is worthy of mention. It structures the space, centering the two sets of seating chairs, the brown ones around the table and the black chairs around the room. These two sets of chairs allow potential positions of distance and proximity from the center of the supervision discussion and the hierarchy of the room (something that is evident in the soundscape). The coat of the supervisor, shown in the chair in front of the whiteboard, is indicative of the centered position as well as the power yielded by the role within the arrangement. The seat of the supervisor is in front of the whiteboard, which offers proximity to write something, further indicating the knowledge aspect of this power differential in the arrangement; the whiteboard also visually ‘frames’ the supervisor as the main character of the scene. In the middle of the conference table, there is a jar with potpourri, to absorb the smell of the crowded meetings.

 

On the left side of the table, there is a cupboard with a telephone connecting the room with the headquarters, some leaflets of the NGO’s programs, pens and notepads, a note stuck on the wall, with the wi-fi network’s password. A grim-coloured realistic painting depicting a refugee family of Asian origin is hanging on one of the walls of conference room, as evidenced in Image 3. Leaving aside issues of realist or orientalist depiction, this humanitarian theme is framing the NGO’s mission/objective and its service recipients, but it also sets an affective tonality, the atmosphere where the professionals’ empathetic skills are employed to work. Having described the material settings of the affective arrangement, in the next section, I will provide the rationale and the theoretical background for opting to reflect on my data as soundscapes.

 

Figure 3

 

 

On Studying the Soundscapes of the Affective Arrangements?

Coming from the sub-discipline of critical social discursive psychology, I have been disciplined methodologically to think that naturally occurring discursive data[2] are preferable to interviews (eg. Potter & Hepburn, 2005; Edwards & Potter, 1992): unencumbered by the researcher’s concerns, such data offer the space to study the turn-by-turn interaction of the participants. In this post-doctoral project, I proceeded to experiment with naturally-occurring data, namely the discursive interactions of the supervision arrangement, whereas in the past I had worked with face-to-face interview data. When I was negotiating the options for access to the field site, the possibility of video recording the sessions was deemed infeasible due to anonymity concerns of the NGO, so I opted instead to digitally record the discussions. At that moment, I realised that I would have to participate in the discussions of quite large groups, of 15 or more people. This worried me a bit, as to whether I would be able to digitally record all the verbal interactions taking place in the room. While googling this question, I also requested some help and advice from some friends, who are musicians, sound engineers and/or ethnomusicologists. They advised me to use a special brand of (semi-)professional recording gear, to place it strategically across the room, in order to acoustically cover the space. But at this point, the issue of collecting qualitative data, the voices/words of the participants, turned into a problem of methods. Sound, not just words, became a mode of data representation of the (affective) arrangement of the supervision. The various technical options of sound recording, such as the equipment, the software, its spatial arrangement, the digital quality preferred, the position of the microphones, the digital space of storage, the data coding format, became methodological decisions, each with its pros and cons (until then unbeknownst to a critical social psychologist), and important elements for approaching data as soundscapes.

 

The concept of the soundscape is increasingly used by researchers across the sciences and the social sciences. In the field of acoustics, it suggests exploring all the sound in an environment in its complexity, ambivalence, meaning, and context (Brooks, Schulte-Fortkamp, Voigt & Case, 2014). Almo Farina (2014) defines the soundscape as the entire sonic energy produced by a landscape. The foreground and background sounds, in relation to the sound source and the position of the listener, outline the association between the soundscape and the landscape. The background sounds which refer to the low-level sounds that result from the blend of several individual sound sources are highly associated with the landscape (Farina, 2014, as stated in Matsinos, Tsaligopoulos & Economou, 2016). Consequently, as a showcase of the recording of the affective arrangement, I have appended two sound clips from my first day of fieldwork, from the same emotion episode.

 

 

 

Sound Clip 1 (‘emotion episode.mp3’) was recorded with the semi-professional digital device, set below the painting in order to cover the room. The alternative Sound Clip 2 (‘emotion episode-alt.mp3’), was recorded with my smartphone, placed on the conference table, in the middle of the room[3]. In the landscape of the supervision room, the two distinctly different recordings (would) include the voices of all participants, speaking in Greek in the foreground and the background vis-a-vis the location of the recording device, the door opening/closing when people enter/leave the process, the papers hustling, the seats screeching, the pens tapping, the potpourri being meddled with, the side discussions shushing; also, if one listens closely, the outdoors’ sonic ecology, some birds tweeting, cars from the high street, etc. All these sounds create the soundscape of the affective arrangement, providing aural information for what was going on, aside from the discussion, forming an atmosphere for the participants and the listener.

 

Anderson (2009) suggests that as an everyday speech term, an atmosphere traverses distinctions between peoples, things, and spaces. Amongst much else, it is possible to talk of: a morning atmosphere, the atmosphere of a room before a meeting, the atmosphere of a city, an atmosphere between two or more people, the atmosphere of a street, the atmosphere of an epoch, an atmosphere in a place of worship, and the atmosphere that surrounds a person. He states (2009, p. 78) that atmospheres have a perpetual unfinished quality. They are forming and deforming, appearing and disappearing, as bodies enter into relation with one another, as in a supervision. They are never finished, static or at rest. Atmospheres are collective affects that are simultaneously indeterminate and determinate (p. 78). Atmospheres do not fit neatly into the distinctions between affect and emotion. To attend analytically to affective atmospheres is to learn to be affected by the ambiguities of affect/emotion, by that which is determinate and indeterminate, present and absent, singular and vague. They are indeterminate with regard to the distinction between the subjective and objective. They mix together narrative and signifying elements and non-narrative and asignifying elements. And they are impersonal in that they belong to collective situations and yet can be felt as intensely personal. The concept of the atmosphere can provide one answer to the question of how the social relates to the affective and emotive dimensions of life. Atmospheres then, are ‘spatially discharged affective qualities that are autonomous from the bodies that they emerge from, enable and perish with’ (Anderson, 2009, p.80).

 

Hence, enlisting the concept of the atmosphere to describe the arrangement of supervision would shed light on the importance of all those elements recorded as data within the soundscape, data which would have been erased, should I chose to register analytically only the audible voices. On listening to the same two sound clips, further questions arise: what about feeling the atmosphere through sound? In a non-English language nevertheless? I presume that after hearing the two sound examples, the unfinished quality of the atmosphere (Anderson, 2009) is evident. How can one distinctly categorise the atmosphere? What is included and what excluded from the atmosphere of a soundscape? The tone and the pitch of the voices, the doors squeaking, all this noise can become significant, it can take its place in the analytic scope through the fieldwork notes of my participant observation in that session, as non-verbal events that happened, in parallel to a mild-mannered, quasi-scientific discussion focusing on a certain emotional episode in the job.

 

But, my claims and insights as an analyst participant on the atmosphere of the session need to be grounded on Zembylas’ (2014, 2008) concept of critical emotional reflexivity, premised in a historical and political understanding of the role of emotions in power relations in the field (Zembylas, 2014). Critical emotional reflexivity consists in the ability to question emotionally charged, cherished beliefs exposing how privileged positions and comfort zones inform the ways in which one recognizes what and how he or she has been taught to see or act (or not to see/act). This concept acknowledges that reflexive processes are deeply emotional, both in the participants’ accounts and the analyst’s claims. Being positioned in the field with critical emotional reflexivity, I warrant my claims in the entanglement of emotions with power relations and reflexive processes, occurring in order to legitimize or de-legitimize certain practices (Zembylas, 2014). One pertinent reflexive insight, relevant to the soundscapes of the examples, concerns the noise from the papers and pens of participants (and the relevant side discussions) signing their compulsory presence to the sessions. It can be conceived as a depiction of the infusion of power inequalities and micro-negations in the arrangement: some participants do not consider supervision necessary, so they tend to be late, others have a pressing work commitment, so they have to leave earlier, while others opt to exit the room for a smoke, and come back. Such sounds are then significant for the atmosphere of the arrangement. In the meantime, some participants tend to detach themselves and avoid participating vocally in the session, by browsing their smartphones in silence. Another sound, indicative of an aspect of detaching from the supervision, is the meddling and scratching of the pot-pourri, which can be heard in time 2:13-2:20 and 02:48-02:51 of the ‘emotion episode-alt.wav’ file. Even though in this sound extract it lasts just for a few seconds, this participants’ practice is opening issues for critical emotional reflection, as to how it registers in the atmosphere and how it can be analytically conceived. Another approach, focusing on the participants’ emergent and situated affective/discursive practices, is needed as tool at hand.

 

The Shift to the Affective/Discursive Practices of the Affective Arrangements?

I suppose up till here I have shown the messy multimodality of studying situated affect as entanglement in the supervision arrangement. Two pertinent decision points arose: “Where is the heuristic value overall of these sound clips for this emotion episode?” “Through such soundscape data, how can you meaningfully showcase what was the meaning of that emotion episode?”

 

To discuss these issues, I need to fall back on my sub-discipline of origin, critical discursive social psychology, itself a messy entanglement of the micro, meso and macro viewpoints to the analysis of identities. In that way, I will end my account of ‘entering the field’ and encountering the messy reality of the affective arrangement of a supervision session. Margaret Wetherell is one of the principal advocates of critical discursive (social) psychology, a discernible strand of theoretical developments and empirical analyses (see Bozatzis, 2016; Bozatzis, 2009; Edley, 2001; Wetherell, 2013a; Wetherell, 1998; Wetherell & Edley, 1999). This approach combines the conversation analytic spirit of fine-grained, turn-by-turn analysis of text, with the political–genealogical import of post-structuralism. It focuses on the active work of meaning-making in situ and its practical organisation (Wetherell et al., 2015). Within this strand of work, ‘analyses focus on ways in which historically constituted representations, implicated in power/knowledge nexuses, come to be mobilised within conversational contexts through speakers’ reflexive, vis-a-vis their accountability, rhetorical actions’ (Bozatzis, 2009, p. 434). Wetherell, in a classic publication from 1998, defines critical discursive (social) psychology as that discipline which focuses on the situated flow of discourse, which looks at the formation and negotiation of psychological states, identities and interactional and intersubjective events. It is concerned with members’ methods and the logic of accountability while describing also the collective and social patterning of background normative conceptions (their forms of articulation and the social and psychological consequences). It is a discipline concerned with the practices which produce persons, notably discursive practices, but seeks to put these in a genealogical context .

 

Wetherell in a recent publication pinpoints methodologically my concern on the heuristic value of the sound clips of the soundscapes: the separation of affect, understood as non-representational intensity from mediated signification is deemed problematic both as a social theory of affect and, particularly, as method. It has led researchers to treat affect as a kind of cultural uncanny: mysterious, a force directly hitting the body, bypassing discourse, sense making and cognition. Method becomes a scramble to retrieve ‘atmospheres’ (Anderson, 2009) and the ineffable (Wetherell, 2013b). The limits to the spread of affect, on who becomes affected have nothing to do with atmosphere per se, but are to do with how human participants read what is being assembled, and actively position themselves within it. In the supervision session, how do participants understand and orient to what is being assembled, to the discursive interactions, to the soundscape?The limits of the soundscape/atmosphere mode of data production have to do with the perspectives, identities and affective ‘know how’ people carry forward from past practice, and with the possibility of multiple and variable constructions of the scene, according to Wetherell (2013b, p. 232-233). It is necessary thus to focus analytically on the discourse of the participants, the text itself as a(nother) mode of data.

 

In such a study of affect, Wetherell proposes a shift of analytic attention to affective/discursive practices as situated, emergent and dynamic entanglements. ‘A practice approach positions affect as a dynamic process, emergent from a polyphony of intersections and feedbacks, working across body states, registrations and categorisations, entangled with cultural meaning-making, and integrated with material and natural processes, social situations and social relationships’ (Wetherell, 2015, p. 139). An affective practice typically pulls together or orders in relation to each other patterns of body/brain activity, patterns of meaning- making, feelings, perceptions, cognition and memories, interactional potentialities and routines, forms of accountability, appraisals and evaluations, subject positions and histories of relationships (Wetherell, 2013b, p. 236). In this sense, an affective/discursive practice in the arrangement of supervision can be usefully seen as a kind of flowing assemblage, an articulation or a dynamic figuration, a messy multimodal entanglement of sounds, words and embodied gestures. Affective-discursive practices exhibit group-wise a normative conventional pattern, a know-how, and a ‘nexus of doings and sayings’ (Schatzki, 1996), that are contextualised as well as context-creating and context-transforming. Therefore, participants in a group supervision session share a know-how from past experiences, understand the context, what is allowed and what is not, what is the necessary voice pitch and what are the repertoires and words to be used to refer to their experience. Affective practice forms a routine that social actors can drop into. This routine typically makes sense for its audiences, can be relatively easily spotted in others, and, overall, constructs, articulates and communicates a pattern of relations (Burkitt, 2014, as found in Wetherell et al., 2015). The study of situated affect in a micro-context takes off from ‘the socially visible sense that a person is trying to make in the immediate situation’ (Katz, 1999, p. 5): in the supervision sessions, we aim to investigate in fine grain the transcribed text of their discussion – whether their articulation and intermeshing is careful, repetitive and predictable, i.e. canonical or ‘contingently thrown together at the moment with what else is at hand’ (Wetherell, 2012, p. 90). Situated affective practices build psychologies, identities, reputations and subjectivities in their local context; participants make meaning in their accounts, just as they build social orders, histories and institutions in the macro context.

 

I will now provide a simplified and translated extract from the transcription of the emotion episode documented in the sound clips[4], in order to add a textual mode of data to what was happening in the supervision arrangement. To provide a bit of context, in this extract from minute 22:50 to 26:30 of the original recording, participants in the supervision session[5] discuss their management of an incident with a refugee woman that caused a fuss some days before. They are debating ways of handling such ‘troublesome’ cases, that is to say best practices of managing empathy in their workplace. In this example, P4 is performing an affective/discursive practice of indignation regarding not calling her down to consult with her ‘case’.

 

Emotion Episode:

389        Ψ4: Βέβαια το σωστό σε αυτή την περίπτωση, εφόσον υπάρχει ένας άνθρωπος που ήταν στον 5ο

P4: Of course, the right thing to do in this case, since there is someone on the 5th floor who is

390        όροφο και είναι case handler αυτής της περίπτωσης είναι να ενημερωθεί ότι είχε γίνει…

this case’s handler, is to inform her that it had happened…

391        Γιατί τη συγκεκριμένη περίπτωση την έχω αναλάβει από το μηδέν. Και όντως, έχω κάνει

Because I have handled this particular case from the beginning. And indeed, I have done

392        πάρα πολλές κινήσεις για τη συγκεκριμένη κυρία και στο στεγαστικό της κομμάτι, και στη

many many actions for this particular lady and with her accomodation situation, and with her

393        στήριξη με τις κόρες της, γιατί είναι μονογονεϊκή, εεε, οπότε θα μπορούσα να έχω

support with her daughters, because she is a single parent family, eehh, so I could have been

394        ενημερωθεί κι εγώ να έχω ένα ρόλο σε αυτή τη διαδικασία. Δηλαδή είναι ένα κομμάτι το

also informed to have a part to play in this process. That is, one aspect is the medical, but

395        ιατρικό, αλλά είναι και ένα κομμάτι της ψυχοκοινωνικής στήριξης, και πολλές φορές λέω,

there is also the aspect of the psychosocial support, and many times I say, both to the

396        και στους διερμηνείς και στους γιατρούς, ότι, δεν χρειάζεται να απαντάτε σε πράγματα που

translators and the doctors, that, you don’t need to answer things that are not your

397        δεν είναι αρμοδιότητά σας, γιατί παίρνετε και την ευθύνη σε αυτά τα πράγματα, και επίσης,

obligation, because you are taking a responsibility on stuff like that, and also,

398        πράγματα τα οποία δεν μπορείτε να χειριστείτε εκείνη την ώρα, γι’ αυτό είμαστε εμείς και

things that you cannot handle at that time, that’s why we are there and we are getting paid,

399        πληρωνόμαστε, για να κάνουμε εμείς χειρισμό.

to handle such things.

400        Ε: Να σας πάρουν δηλαδή τηλέφωνο και να την παραπέμψουν σε σας.

S: You mean to call you on the phone and refer her to you

401        Ψ4: Ένα τηλέφωνο! Να κατέβω να δω τι έχει συμβεί, να συζητήσω μαζί της, αν έχει προκύψει

P4: A telephone! To come down and see what has happened, to discuss with her, if there is

402        μια ένταση, να λυθεί. Γιατί εγώ αυτή τη στιγμή έχω, ένα διερμηνέα στα κάγκελα, ένα

tension, to settle it. Because now at this moment I have a translator on the edge, a case on the

403        περιστατικό στα κάγκελα, εγώ βρίσκομαι στη μέση και δεν ξέρω πως να το χειριστώ!

edge, I am in the middle and I don’t know how to handle it!

 

This modality of data representation is providing a fine-grained way of analysing turn-by-turn the actual discursive practices of the participants, showing the messy, entangled meanings and affects of naturally occurring conversations. I opted to avoid using here the Jefferson system of detailed transcription (Jefferson, 2004), even though it would confer another layer of detail to the depiction of the affective prosody of the data: this system systematically showcases the intonation, the micro-pauses, the overlaps, etc. I focus in lines 389-403, where P4 is interrupting the supervisor’s point to argue for a more personalised, empathic way of dealing with this case in that incident. What interests me more, is the affective/discursive practice of indignation in line 401, where she exclaims “a telephone”, to highlight the urgency of her proposal. There is a rise of pitch in her voice uttering this word, overlapping and concurring with the supervisors same word, heard in 2:34 of the sound-clip. Through my embodied participation in this emotion episode, I was affected by the indignation of P4. It was felt in the atmosphere of the room, I witnessed her motions, her facial gestures and attuned myself with her tone of speech. Analytically, this rise can be visualised in the following pitch diagram (Figure 4) produced through the phonetic speech analysis program Praat (Boersma & Weenink, 2019). It is evidenced in the high rise (and fall) of pitch between the marks of 154.3 and 155,4. This mode of data representation, through a phonetic pitch analysis, can document in a visual and somewhat quantitative mode that something affective is happening there; this audible shift of pitch in 2:34 of the soundclip, visible in the pitch diagram, depicts an emergent timewise and situated affective/discursive practice of indignation, on the reason that she wasn’t called down to handle her case. An entanglement of meaning and affect, this practice needs a multimodal methodological scrutiny to figure its patterns from the messy bundle of text and sounds.

 

Figure 4

 

To end this experiential account with a brief comment, we opt to return to the plural pronoun. In this article, we tried to discuss the (in)decisions and the methodological options at-hand, in fieldwork and data analysis vis-a-vis the issues of affect as practice; though this emotion episode we exemplified a multimodal way to phronetically document this entangled affective/discursive practice in the micro level of the supervision interaction. This multimodal way can prove conducive for a critical discussion, as the in situ affective/discursive practices of the participants will inform the analysis of the professionalised power management of empathy to the refugees as (mental) health clients, performed within such supervision arrangements.

 

 

Notes

[1]  I draw on the notion of ‘regime’ from the discipline of international relations to refer both to the government and the autonomy of refugees’ and migrants’ movement, life, policy/ing and integration. Regimes consist of ‘principles, norms, rules and decision-making procedures’ (Wolf, 1994, p. 423, cited in Tsianos & Karakayali, 2010).

[2]  Such as people talking over a dinner table, or in a classroom, the interactions around a bank teller, or phone calls to an emergency service, that is qualitative data obtained without the active intervention (questioning/interviewing) and/or presence of the researcher.

[3]  Apart from cropping them from the full recording and converting them to .mp3 format, no further sound editing was performed on the clips.

[4]  Due to the word limit, I opted to add the full transcription of the discussion happening in the soundclip(s) in the appendix.

[5]  In the extract, I keep the numbering of the lines from the original transcription. The initials used refer to: E/S: Supervisor; Δ#/T#: Translators numbered according to their seating position; Ψ#/P#: Psychosocial professionals  numbered according to their seating position.

 

References

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Agier, M. (2008). On the Margins of the World. The Refugee Experience Today (trans. D.Fernbach). Cambridge, Polity Press.  

Anderson, B. (2009). ‘Affective Atmospheres’. Emotion, Space and Society, 2, pp. 77–81.

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Georgios Kesisoglou works as a Postdoctoral Researcher and Adjunct Lecturer in the Center for Qualitative Research in Psychology and Psychosocial Well-Being, of the Department of Philosophy, Pedagogy and Psychology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. A critical social psychologist by training, with a Ph.D. from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, he is interested in critical approaches to affect and discourse, critical discursive psychology, multicultural and social justice counselling and social constructionist perspectives on psycho-social care and psychotherapy. ORCID: 0000-0001-7671-8324

 

Philia Issari is Assistant Professor of Counselling Psychology and Director of the Centre for Qualitative Research in Psychology and Psychosocial Well-Being, Department of Philosophy, Pedagogy and Psychology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. A graduate of the Ph.D. training course in counselling psychology of UCLA, she is interested in qualitative methodologies and especially narrative inquiry, narrative approaches to counselling and psychotherapy, embodiment and performance. She has published widely in English and Greek.

 

 

Appendix

Emotion Episode:

358        Δ3: Αυτό το έχουνε, αυτό το έχουνε, το έχουνε.

T3: They are like that, they do

359        Δ2: Πάει δηλαδή να ρωτήσει το άλλο μεταφραστή. Δηλαδή; είναι ήδη μαζί…

T2: I mean, she goes then to ask the other translator. What? They are already together…

360        Ψ4: Εσύ εκείνη εκείνη την ώρα δεν του λες ότι στα έχει πεί ήδη οοο… άλλος μεταφραστής;

P4: Don’t you tell her, at this moment that the other translator has already told you so and so?

361        Δ2: Έχει ήδη μαζί ένα μεταφραστή, έχω ένα μαζί μου δηλαδή, μεταφράζει ο ένας, και έρθει για

Τ2: She already has a translator, I have one with me, I mean, one is translating, and she comes

362        μένα να ρωτήσει, και έρχεται ο αυτός. Δεν ξέρω.

to ask for me, and this guy comes. I don’t know.

363        Ψ5: Εντάξει, μπορεί να αισθάνονται και… δυσπιστία μετά

P5: OK, they may also feel distrustful after.

364        Ψ4: Και υπερισχύει κιόλας η δυσπιστία. Αφού ανταποκρίνονται δυο στο πρόσωπό σου.

P4: Then, distrust wins on the top. Since two persons are responding to you.

365        Ψ5: Δηλαδή όταν μιλάει ένας μεταφραστής, μπαίνει κι άλλος ένας, μπορεί να αναρωτηθεί γιατί

P5: I mean, when a translator is speaking, another one enters, they may wonder why another one

366        μπαίνει κι άλλος ένας. Τι θέλει να κάνει; Θέλει να μπαλώσει κάτι; θέλει να διορθώσει κάτι;

enters. What does she want to do? Does she want to mend something? Does she want to fix

367        θέλει να…

something? She wants to…

368        Ε: Δεν πρόκειται ναι.. όσο και να οργανωθεί νομίζω, δεν πρόκειται να αποφευχθούν τέτοιου

S: It isn’t going to, yes. As much as it can be organised, I thing, this sort of incidents are not

369        είδους περιστατικά, γιατί… έχουνε θυμό και θέλουν να τον εκτονώσουνε, έχουν απελπισία

going to be avoided, because… they have anger and they want to relieve themselves, they

370        και θέλουν να την εκτονώσουν, θέλουν να δημιουργήσουν φασαρίες και διάσπαση του

have despair and they want to relieve themselves, they want to create trouble and splitting of

371        προσωπικού

the staff

372        T1: Αυτό το έχουν

T1: They have that

373        Ε: Οπότε εκ των πραγμάτων όσο καλά και να οργανωθεί το τι πρέπει να κάνουν οι διερμηνείς,

S: In fact then, as good as it can be organised what the translators must do, what the security

374        τι πρέπει να κάνουν οι φύλακες, τι πρέπει να κάνουν οι γιατροί, νομίζω, τέτοια περιστατικά

personnel must do, what the doctors must do, I think, such incidents

375        θα συμβαίνουν.

will happen

376        Ψ4: Έχει να κάνει…

P4: This is due to…

377        Δ3: Να ρωτήσω κάτι; γιατί δεν κάνουμε εκπαίδευση; στους διερμηνείς.

T3: May I ask something? Why don’t we train? The translators

378        Ε: Ωραία, εδώ δηλαδή, ποιο ήτανε το λάθος; που μπορούμε να βρούμε ότι θα έπρεπε να γίνει

S: Fine, I mean here, what was the mistake? Where can we find that something different should

379        κάτι διαφορετικό;

have happened?

380        Δ3: Όχι, να μάθουμε, τόσα πράγματα που δεν, δεν τα γνωρίζουμε.

T3: No, to learn, so many things that we don’t, we don’t know.

381        Ε: Από τη στιγμή που της είπε διερμηνέας ότι μου είπε ο γιατρός, ότι χάσατε 2 ραντεβού και

S: Since a translator said to her that the doctor told me, that you lost 2 appointments and at this

382        αυτή τη στιγμή, ό,τι και να θέλετε, δεν μπορείτε να εξυπηρετηθείτε άμεσα, δεν είναι κάτι

moment, whatever you may want, you cannot be serviced immediately, there is no

383        επείγον, αν της το είπατε αυτό,

emergency, if you told her that

384        Δ2: Ναι, αλλά, μου είπε “δεν θέλω τίποτα από γιατρό, μόνο φάρμακα”.

T2: Yes, but she told me “I don’t want anything from the doctor, just medicine”

385        Ε: Οπότε απλό είναι.

S: So it is simple.

386        Δ2: “Δεν θέλω να μπω μέσα”. Εγώ μετάφραζα αυτά που…

Τ2: “I don’t want to go inside”. I was translating the things that…

387        Ε: Ναι, από τη στιγμή λοιπόν που το λέει αυτό, θα πρέπει να απομακρυνθεί από το χώρο των

S: Yes, once she says that, she has to be removed from the space of the

388        ιατρείων.

Doctors’ offices

389        Ψ4: Βέβαια το σωστό σε αυτή την περίπτωση, εφόσον υπάρχει ένας άνθρωπος που ήταν στον 5ο

Of course, the right thing to do in this case, since there is someone on the 5th floor who is

390        όροφο και είναι case handler αυτής της περίπτωσης είναι να ενημερωθεί ότι είχε γίνει…

this case’s handler, it is to inform her that it had happened…

391        Γιατί τη συγκεκριμένη περίπτωση την έχω αναλάβει από το μηδέν. Και όντως, έχω κάνει

Because I have handled this particular case from the beginning. And indeed, I have done

392        πάρα πολλές κινήσεις για τη συγκεκριμένη κυρία και στο στεγαστικό της κομμάτι, και στη

many many actions for this particular lady and in her accomodation situation, and in her

393        στήριξη με τις κόρες της, γιατί είναι μονογονεϊκή, εεε, οπότε θα μπορούσα να έχω

support with her daughters, because she is a singe parent family, eehh, so I could have been

394        ενημερωθεί κι εγώ να έχω ένα ρόλο σε αυτή τη διαδικασία. Δηλαδή είναι ένα κομμάτι το

also informed to have a part to play in this process. That is, one aspect is the medical, but

395        ιατρικό, αλλά είναι και ένα κομμάτι της ψυχοκοινωνικής στήριξης, και πολλές φορές λέω,

there is also the aspect of the psychosocial support, and many times I say, both to the

396        και στους διερμηνείς και στους γιατρούς, ότι, δεν χρειάζεται να απαντάτε σε πράγματα που

translators and the doctors, that, you don’t need to answer things that are not your

397        δεν είναι αρμοδιότητά σας, γιατί παίρνετε και την ευθύνη σε αυτά τα πράγματα, και επίσης,

obligation, because you are taking a responsibility on stuff like that, and also,

398        πράγματα τα οποία δεν μπορείτε να χειριστείτε εκείνη την ώρα, γι’ αυτό είμαστε εμείς και

things that you cannot handle at that time, that’s why we are there and we are getting paid,

399        πληρωνόμαστε, για να κάνουμε εμείς χειρισμό.

to handle such things.

400        Ε: Να σας πάρουν δηλαδή τηλέφωνο και να την παραπέμψουν σε σας.

S: You mean to call you on the phone and refer her to you

401        Ψ4: Ένα τηλέφωνο! Να κατέβω να δω τι έχει συμβεί, να συζητήσω μαζί της, αν έχει προκύψει

P4: A telephone! To come down and see what has happened, to discuss with her, if there is a

402        μια ένταση, να λυθεί. Γιατί εγώ αυτή τη στιγμή έχω, ένα διερμηνέα στα κάγκελα, ένα

tension, to settle it. Because now at this moment I have a translator on the edge, a case on the

403        περιστατικό στα κάγκελα, εγώ βρίσκομαι στη μέση και δεν ξέρω πως να το χειριστώ!

edge, I am in the middle and I don’t know how to handle it!

404        Ε: Λοιπόν, η γνώμη μου είναι, ότι… καταλαβαίνω όλη αυτή τη φόρτιση και την πίεση, η γνώμη

S: So, my opinion is, that… I understand all this tension and pressure, my opinion

405        μου είναι ότι δεν πρέπει εκείνη την ώρα να σε πάρουν εκτάκτως, δεν μπορεί κάποιος και ο

is that they shouldn’t at this time call you extraordinarily, noone, anyone,

406        οποιοσδήποτε να έρχεται να δημιουργεί φασαρία, μπορεί εσύ να βλέπεις κάποιο άλλο

can come and create havoc, you may be with another

407        περιστατικό, να είσαι σε συνεδρία, να είσαι εκτός του χώρου αυτού, θα πρέπει να μην της

case, you may be in session, you can be out of this space, they should not

408        γίνεται το χατήρι, ανά πάσα στιγμή ας πούμε να δημιουργεί έκτακτο περιστατικό! Δηλαδή η

indulge in her, say at any moment to create an emergency event! That is, the line

409        γραμμή συνήθως σε αυτές τις περιπτώσεις είναι η εξής: αν υποθέσουμε ότι η ίδια νιώθει

to usually be taken in cases like this is the following: supposedly she feels

410        απελπισία, ή νιώθει ότι δεν την καταλαβαίνουνε, εκείνη την ώρα να της πουν εντάξει, “ποιος

desperate, or she feels that they don’t understand her, tell her at that moment, OK, “who is

411        είναι ο ψυχολόγος, θα σας κλείσουμε ένα ραντεβού το συντομότερο δυνατόν”, δεν είναι

the psychologist, we will book you an appointment as soon as possible”, there is no

412        ανάγκη να σε φωνάξουνε εκτάκτως κάτω…

need to call you down out of the ordinary…

413        Ψ4: Μα ποιος θα το κανονίσει, ο διερμηνέας θα το κανονίσει το ραντεβού με τον ψυχολόγο; Ο

P4: But who will book it, the translator will book the appointment with the psychologist? The

414        γιατρός δεν προγραμματίζει ραντεβού στον ψυχολόγο. Ποιος θα το κανονίσει;

doctor doesn’t program psychologist’s appointments. Who will book it?

415        Ψ2: Ο κοινωνικός λειτουργός.

              P2: The social worker