In 2011 the Ilex Association carried out a research project on meanings and impacts of job loss on workers’ psychological well-being and quality of life. This project was organised in collaboration with the Department for Social Policy of the municipality of Sesto Fiorentino, the Department of Education, Work and Employment Centres of the Province of Florence, the Department of Psychology of the University of Florence and Labour Unions (CGIL-CISL-UIL). The main goal was to offer workers an opportunity to address and process the difficulties arising from such a loss. By using Action Research as theoretical framework, the Ilex Association analysed qualitative data obtained from focus groups organized by the Unions. From this early stage of the project clearly emerged that the best answer to psychological stress related to job loss was the construction of a supportive group in which participants could share their experiences and emotions to face active job-loss guilt and feeling of inadequacy leading to social isolation. The group became a nonjudgmental place where the sharing of similar experiences offered participants a new access to their resources, fostering empowerment. In order to work on personal resources and coping strategies it was necessary to process the traumatic aspects and emotional contents emerged during group sessions. Based on the experience of Sesto Fiorentino, another group experience took place in Mantova after the closing down of two historic production companies of this city. This type of supportive group also shows the same defense mechanisms commonly active in situations of mourning or loss. The loss of work involves aspects of identity crisis, which activate feelings of guilt and inadequacy related to one’s ability to move around in the world. By sharing similar experiences and "normalising" their emotions, group participants become able to re-appropriate their emotional resources. This type of supportive group offers an effective alternative or at least a complementary resource to individual psychopharmacological therapies..
Keywords: Transformation of shame in awareness of resources, rediscovery of planning, initiative, isolation, sharing
Cecilia Dell'Olio, Maria Rosaria De Maria, Marisa Artioli, Matteo Guerrino, Uma Giardina, From individual shame to collective hope in "RIVISTA SPERIMENTALE DI FRENIATRIA" 1/2016, pp. 87-97, DOI:10.3280/RSF2016-001006