Oral Presentation The 26th International Nursing Philosophy Conference 2023

Uncharted water: An autoethnographic analysis of negotiating partnership working with a mental health service user/survivor (#53)

Rosie Stenhouse 1
  1. university of edinburgh, Medical Quad, Teviot Place, EDINBURGH, United Kingdom

Background: Working in partnership with people who use the health system is an expectation of UK Government and local health policy. Within the field of mental health those who use/ have used the psychiatric system have often experienced it as marginalising. Development of partnership working with services-users provides the potential for their voices to be heard within dominant discourses (the intention of inclusion), however, this is not problematized and there is little literature focused on nurses’ (challenging) experience of negotiating partnership working with service users.

Aim: This paper presents an autoethnographic exploration of the author’s experience of working closely with a psychiatric service-user/survivor in academic and research related activities over a period of seven years.

Method: Autoethnographic approach focusing on the self-other hyphen (Fine 1998) as the space between the two of us in which our subjectivities meet and are negotiated. I draw on Ahmed (2014, 2012) and others to analyse the emotional work that happened. I problematize the attempt to take the side of the service-user from my subjective position as psychiatric nurse.

Findings: Negotiating this relationship for both of us was emotionally challenging. As a psychiatric nurse I find myself positioned as representative of a system which had caused pain and hurt to this service user. I confront hope, shame and anger, whilst also becoming the object towards which anger and hurt are directed.

Discussion: My analysis identifies that whilst the work that we attempted was motivated by the belief that it would enable the service user voice to be heard in the dominant discourses of mental health services, academia and mental health nursing, this was in tension with a fear of colonising/being colonised which became insurmountable.

Conclusion: The discursive positions of service user and psychiatric professional have significant implications for successful partnership working.

  1. Fine M (1998) "Working the Hyphens: Reinventing Self and Other in Qualitative Research,” in The Landscape of Qualitative Research: Theories and Issues, ed. Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1998), 130–55.
  2. Ahmed S (2014) The cultural politics of emotion (2nd Edition). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
  3. Ahmed S (2012) On being included: racism and diversity in institutional life. Philadelphia: Duke University Press