Psychoanalytically informed research interviewing: notes on the free association narrative interview method
evidence and practice    

Psychoanalytically informed research interviewing: notes on the free association narrative interview method

Philip John Archard Mental Health Practitioner, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, Leicester, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand what it means to undertake and analyse research interviews in a way that is informed by psychoanalysis and how this differs in theory and practice from a non-psychoanalytically informed approach

  • To consider one influential approach to research interviewing based on a psychoanalytic framework: Hollway and Jefferson’s free association narrative interview method

  • To understand how this method has informed the work of researchers in nursing and allied disciplines

Background Following the development of the transdisciplinary field of British psychosocial studies, interest in the application of insights from psychoanalysis in qualitative research has grown in recent years among researchers in nursing and allied disciplines.

Aim To address a paucity of attention to – and lack of clarity concerning – the implications of methodological developments and debate around the application of psychoanalytic perspectives and techniques in research, specifically the theory and practice of research interviewing as a psychoanalytically informed endeavour.

Discussion This paper draws from the author’s doctoral research to provide a critical account of Hollway and Jefferson’s (2000, 2013) free association narrative interview method (FANIM). It describes FANIM’s core elements and then moves on to consider its use by nursing and applied health and social care researchers, and then to criticism that has been levelled against Hollway and Jefferson’s work regarding it.

Conclusion FANIM provides valuable ideas about how to approach nursing research in a way inspired by psychoanalytic principles, but requires further evaluation by nursing researchers.

Implications for practice Nurse researchers may take inspiration from particular aspects of FANIM. They should also reflect on whether they are mislabelling their approach as ‘psychoanalytic’ or ‘psychoanalytically informed’, if they only partly apply it.

Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2020.e1718

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

archardphilip@gmail.com

Conflict of interest

None declared

Archard P (2020) Psychoanalytically informed research interviewing: notes on the free association narrative interview method. Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2020.e1718

Published online: 07 May 2020

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