The dynamics of interpersonal trust: implications for care at times of psychological crisis

Zoom - registration required
Monday 12 December 2022 (13:00-14:00)

Stacey Smith

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Institute for Mental Health

The dynamics of interpersonal trust: implications for care at times of psychological crisis.

Trust is complex and has many meanings, but is generally underpinned by relationality. In the context of mental health, interpersonal relationships are often overlooked, particularly with regard to trust, because the topic of trust is dominated instead by valid concerns about relationships with services and professionals. In the talk, I will focus on interpersonal trust. I will draw upon recent work conducted in collaboration with Z.V.R. Boden-Stuart (University of Brighton). We have been re-examining two prior research projects, one on psychosis and the other on suicidality. I will illustrate firstly, how the dynamics of relational trust arise out of particular contexts, and may have particular consequences for psychological health. Then I will show how - in any given relationship mediated by trust - it can be an act of care to filter and limit the extent of what one entrusts to another. This care may be directed towards self or towards others. Individuals can commonly be seen playing a regulatory role in what they share and entrust with others. Respecting people's right to take care of themselves and their relationships in this way is an important way of underscoring their human agency, but can also be a source of understandable concern in the context of mental health difficulties. The interpersonal tension created by this conflict appears to mirror many of the uncomfortable aspects of people's relationships with professionals and services. These tensions seem unlikely to be resolved by calls for kindness or considerateness.

About the Speaker

Michael Larkin is a Reader in Psychology, at the Institute for Health and Neurodevelopment, Aston University, Birmingham. His research uses qualitative and phenomenological methods to understand the relational context of mental health difficulties, especially for young people and their families. He is a co-author of 'Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: Theory, Research, Method' (Sage, 2021), with Jonathan Smith and Paul Flowers.

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