We research encounters between users and professionals, with an emphasis on emotional and relational aspects of these meetings. One of our goals is to gain a more sophisticated understanding of what strengthens the growth of the professional and the capacity to care. This includes knowledge about care of self and other factors that may prevent stagnation and burnout where relationships with other people form a key part of the professional role.
The relational worker must use him- or herself and his/her own emotions as part of the work and these may at times be in tension with professionalism. The development of professionalism in a context in which relations and emotions have a dominant place therefore requires an understanding of intra- and interpersonal processes, as well as institutional and societal dimensions which all together shape professional practice. For that reason the research group practices a multilevel, psycho-social approach to investigating and understanding professional relations.
Psycho-social approaches attend to the dialectic between personal experience and social conditions for relational work. For example, we are interested in how policy, institutional procedures, structures and working practices can support or undermine the well-being of staff and may lead to defensive or dysfunctional behaviours. Ethics is a key aspect of all development of knowledge related to professional relations and is thus a thread that runs through our research.
The research group is concerned with how national and international welfare policy directions and new technology may influence the ways in which professionals enter and sustain caring, developmental and health promoting professional relationships.