Intervention in a Real-Life Context: Therapeutic Space in Poverty-Aware Social Work

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The spatial aspects of therapeutic intervention receive marginal attention in the practice and discourse of therapeutic professions. Currently, influenced by the classic Freudian tradition, the central therapeutic space of social workers and psychologists is the agency and the office. Despite the fact that models of home therapy have been developed over the years, its practice has remained marginal in the professional discourse. This article introduces the concept of intervention in a real-life context as a theoretical and practical framework for work with people in poverty that takes place outside the agency. The article is based on a qualitative study that examined the ongoing experiences of nine women who participated in an intervention programme based on the poverty-aware social work paradigm. The findings revealed that intervention in a real-life context takes place in four major realms: the home space, in which meetings were held regularly; the utilisation-of-rights space; the emergency space; and the professional-friendly space. The discussion sheds light on intervention in a real-life context as a means to practise the psychodynamic concept of holding in working with people who live in poverty.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)321-338
Number of pages18
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Poverty-aware social work
  • critical practice
  • holding
  • in-home intervention
  • therapeutic space

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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