Phenomenological pedagogy in higher education of mental health workers: an example from Norway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionSage Open 3(2013)Nr.1. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/2158244013481359
This article describes the use of phenomenological pedagogy in the higher education of mental health workers. The mental health field is an immensely complex professional field. To create access, the conventional education of mental health professionals compartmentalizes the field according to traditional professional boundaries. Personal–professional expertise and user preference are thereby lost. Such personal experience is privileged in a pedagogy based on Giorgi’s descriptive phenomenological method. Students learn systematically to describe a mental health phenomenon of their interest and reflect on this using each other’s professional insights as well as relevant research literature. Phenomenological description and reflection are repeated several times in the curriculum. Kegan’s subject–object theory of adult development explains how this repetition may support transformation of insight in rather than an accumulation of information about mental health work. The complexity of the mental health field thus emerges as a source of knowledge to exploit rather than merely a rugged landscape to navigate.