It helps to untangle really complicated situations: 'AS IF' supervision for working with complexity

Mark Haydon-Laurelut, E. Millett, D. Bissmire, S. Doswell, C. Heneage

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Working effectively with people with learning disabilities may well involve negotiating complex systems of relationships. Negotiating a network - particularly in the context of risk, anxiety, and conflict - is a common task for clinical psychologists and systemic psychotherapists in Community Learning Disability Teams (CLDT's). In this paper we describe our use of the 'AS IF' consultation exercise (Anderson, 1987) as a tool for addressing complexity and stuck-ness. We have employed 'AS IF' in peer supervision, workshops and training. This paper provides a brief guide to undertaking an 'AS IF' and then reports on a particular us of an 'AS IF' in a peer supervision meeting. Following the meeting team members responded to an e-questionnaire aimed at capturing of the experiences and outcomes of an ‘AS IF’ process. The responses to the e-questionnaire are thematically presented as; reducing stuck-ness and creating new possibilities; hearing the voice of the person with learning disabilities in complex systems; empathy and emotion; and speaking ‘as if’ to our colleagues. ‘AS IF’s listening and speaking practices have enabled us to gain a deeper experience of how meanings are constructed in complex networks of relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-32
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Psychology & People with Learning Disabilities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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