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Face to Face with Emotions in Health and Social Care

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Title: Face to Face with Emotions in Health and Social Care

Author: Benjamin Gray

Publisher: Springer Science + Business Media New York, 2012

Reviewer: Paul Watson, teacher of secondary mathematics and PSHE coordinator

What was it like?

This book draws from the everyday experiences as well as the harsh realities confronting behavioural care providers on the frontline. The book recounts the stories and sometimes disturbing emotions of people whose lives have undergone sudden change or even drastic trauma; people whose feelings of comfort and safety have been shattered by exposure to illness, abuse, death and bereavement. The perspectives and experiences of nurses, social care staff, patients, children and families are at the core of understanding the importance, challenges and therapeutic vitality of emotions. The 55 individuals on the frontline who took part in the interviews on which this study is based discuss the emotions associated with care in mental health, paediatric oncology, AIDS/HIV, as well as child protection and abuse, racism, refugee exile, poverty and social exclusion. 


What were the highlights? 

If the area of emotional labour is one that you are interested in or you are currently studying, then this is a good and informative text with many useful references that could also be reviewed. This is not a book that you would pick up for a light read, but rather one that you would use as a tool to assist with your own understanding of the subject or to assist in developing your own work in this area.

Strengths & weaknesses:

While this book has been written to provide the reader with the skills to deal with, or at least be aware of not only their own emotions, but those of their patients; it is not always clear what the message is that is being given. Although it is a well-written text, it is a heavy read, presenting like a dissertation or doctoral thesis, rather than a reader- specific book. It is often difficult to follow the flow of a sentence or paragraph due to the Harvard referencing breaking the flow of the text. It was also frustrating at times to be discussing the National Health Service in the same sentence in which  American spellings are used, as this felt like a contradiction; leaving me wondering if the data for the study had an American bias; or was it just the spelling?

On a positive note, each of the chapters was split into helpful sections that allow the reader to open the book to a given page to find the information of their interest, instead of having to read all the way to the end. The slight downside to this is that having found the information that you are looking for it was inevitably referenced to another author, so if you were looking to use this in your own work, the recommendation is to go to the source.

Who should read it?

I don’t believe that this book will appeal in its entirety to the general populous of health and social care workers. Rather I believe that it would be a useful tool for the consideration of specific policies in this area, or at a text book pulled from the library shelf when a bit of evidence is required in another piece of work.

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