Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 132–153 | Cite as

The visual matrix: A psycho-social method for discovering unspoken complexities in social care practice

  • Julian ManleyEmail author
  • Alastair Roy
Original Article


This article discusses the use of an innovative research tool, the visual matrix (VM). The VM is a tool that uses the visual imagination, expressed both verbally and in drawing, to reveal hidden or unexpressed ideas, feelings and emotions in research subjects. It is hypothesised to be of particular utility in the study of psychologically painful and/or complex situations, where normal discourse cannot find a means of expression. The VM is discussed as a method that can be applied to psycho-social research. Its use is analysed in the context of a case study in a social care organisation in Manchester.


visual matrix social care practice psycho-social association images 



The research for this article is part of a wider research project. The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of the staff and volunteers of the Men’s Room to the visual matrix and their collaboration in the wider research. We would also like to acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Jenny Hughes (Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama, Manchester University) to the research project as a whole, which has helped to inform the ideas developed in this paper, and the contribution of Professor Lynn Froggett to the development of the visual matrix methodology. We are grateful to Professor Paul Hoggett for reading through the text and for his advice. The research was funded by the Lankelly Chase Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychosocial Research Unit, School of Social Work, Care and CommunityUniversity of Central LancashirePrestonUK

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