Theory, Empiricism, and Methods of Social Therapy

obere Reihe von links: Simone Hauptmann, Hannah Müller-Pein, Fabian Lutz; untere Reihe von links: Christin Zschieschack, Sarah Schmoll, Karolin Wache und Prof. Dr. med. Reinhard Lindner

This department encompasses the theoretical bases of individual and social experiences of suffering as well as forms of dysfunction and intervention. 

Social therapy is the “science of relationships” (FG R. Schwendter) between people in their social surroundings and life contexts. It deals with the “pathology of cultural communities” (FG S. Freud) as well as with their conditions of origin and forms of dysfunction. 

As a social-therapeutic discipline, it methodically encompasses the psychoanalytical and psychosocial forms of social work intervention in the area of treatment and rehabilitation of experiences of mental, spiritual and physical suffering in the social environment. Its “dual subjects, social aetiology and social intervention” (FG Rolf Schwendter) define social therapy as an independent applied science and as an ethics of responsibility of the human sciences. 

As a self-reflective discipline, it investigates experiences of alienation that result from unsuccessful socialisation processes in family, institutional, and social contexts which recur in social-therapeutic interactions (FG transference and institutional transference) and are thought through in processes of professional self-reflection. 

As an ethics of social therapy, it reflects on the potential for social conflict that develops in post-modern social environments. In doing so, it follows a model of “social therapy as an ethics of sympathy” that is responsibility-/ethics-based (FG and not utilitarian). 

Social therapy is used in many fields of practice, which also constitute the subject matter of research in social therapy. These fields of practice include social psychiatry, sociotherapy as part of counselling and treatment in psychiatric, addiction recovery, and geriatric psychiatric settings, social therapy in prisons, child, youth, and family counselling facilities, and alternative and complementary treatment concepts in these fields of practice, in community psychology, and in nursing. 

Social therapy is part of the program leading to the BA degree in social work at the University of Kassel (FG required elective module 8 c). In addition, it is part of module 02 of the MSc program in clinical psychology/ psychotherapy:Medical and Social Science Foundations of Psychology. In addition, it promotes the acquisition of competency in special counselling and therapy qualifications such as the basic educational science curriculum in psychosocial counselling, the psychoanalytical training program in child and youth psychotherapy (FG profile course of studies of the network for psychoanalysis and counselling), in sociotherapy, and in the practical reflection forms of social work. Individual lectures are held for the courses of studies in philosophy within the scope of philosophical anthropology, ethics, and psychoanalytic theory. In addition to conveying the foundations of social therapy (FG introduction, reflection on cases, research workshop), the department also deals with special issues in the areas of therapeutic counselling, epistemological anthropology, conflict management, drug therapy, and social therapy in prisons. 

Teaching and research in social therapy pursue a psychoanalytical and sociodynamic approach to explanation and communication.