Preparing to work in the Community

Home/ Preparing to work in the Community
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSHS3038276

Semester and Year Offered: 2nd Semester, 1st Year

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr. Shifa Haq

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: familiarity with basic psychoanalytic concepts and basic group psychology

Aim: to introduce students to think about communities and marginal spaces in society through an experience-near lens so that they can begin to initiate authentic contact in field sites and sustain work of benefit to the community, even as they open themselves to be touched and transformed through this journey.

Course Outcomes: On successful completion of this course students will be able to

  1. Appreciate psychoanalysis as not only an intensely intrapsychic discipline but also a way of thinking about the suffering created by splitting processes between communities, groups, and nations.
  2. Engage with social processes and experiential phenomena likely to be missed out and neglected by the mainstream socio-economic and political discourse.
  3. Develop skills to begin and sustain contact, with the aim of psychosocial well-being, with groups/communities with a complementary attitude towards other form of community work such as Community Social Work practice.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

  1. History of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis from a European/North American Perspective. Of relevance will be an examination of how mental health practitioners have avoided looking at questions of race, class and gender.
  2. Perspectives from Asia and Latin America- struggles of psychotherapists to engage with the lives of ordinary people will be foregrounded; Students will be acquainted with the perspective of liberation psychology and the mode of dialoguing as a way of reaching neglected forms of experience.
  3. Re-examining the frame: When the frame does not fit the picture. In this unit, students will be made to critically reflect on the rigid assumptions of psychotherapy and the discordant tune it sets when the private practice model remains alienating to millions of lives. The attempt here would be to take psychoanalysis outside into the community and to review the assumptions which function as resistances in the model itself.
  4. Money, Globalization, and Mental Health: Once again the course instructor and the students will open themselves to ask uncomfortable questions which have so far been naturalised and essentialized in the teaching as practice of psychotherapy- especially of a psychoanalytic nature.
  5. Community-based Clinical Work: Students would be encouraged to think of possibilities of community based work. They will simultaneously start visiting sites where future work is to be sustained.
  6. Each student will be required to do a one and half year long community based mental health work in one or two NGOs or in some other community based setting.


Assessment Details with weights: Written - 50% ; Viva - 50%

Reading List:

  • Altman, N. (2013) Psychoanalysis in and out of the office. Psychoanalysis, Culture, and Society.18: 128-139.
  • Altman, N. (2015) Psychoanalysis in times of accelerating change: From spirit possession to globalisation. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Bass, A. (2007) When the frame doesn’t fit the picture. Psychoanalytic Dialogues: The International Journal of Relational Perspectives 17: 1-28.
  • Kakar, S. (1982) Shamans, Mystics, and Doctors. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  • Kraemer, S. & Steinberg, Z. (2006) It’s rarely cold in the NICU: the
  • permeability of psychic space. Psychoanalytic Dialogues 16: 165-180.
  • Langer, M. (1989) From Vienna to Managua: Journey of a Psychoanalyst. London: Free Association Books.
  • Lipton, S. D. (1977) The advantages of Freud’s technique as shown in his analysis of the Rat Man. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 58: 255-273.
  • Menzies, I. E.P. (1975) A case study in the functioning of social systems as a defense against anxiety. In: A.D. Colman and W.H. Bexton (Eds.) Group Relations Reader I (pp. 281-312) Jupiter, FL: A.K. Rice Institute.
  • Sprince, J. (2000) Towards an integrated network. Journal of Child Psychotherapy 26:3 413-431.
  • Sprince, J. (2002) Developing containment: psychoanalytic consultancy to a
  • therapeutic community for traumatized children. Journal of Child Psychotherapy. 28 (2) 147-161.
  • Watkins, M. & Shulman, M. (2008) Toward Psychologies of Liberation. Hampshire, U.K.: Palgrave-MacMillan.