From Therapy to Fieldwork: Reflecting the Experiences of a Therapist and Anthropologist when Researching Substitutional Drugs and Their Users

  • Tereza Baltag
Part of the Theory and History in the Human and Social Sciences book series (THHSS)


Research on substitutional drug therapies and its users in Prague requested to follow addicts between healthcare centers and sites that are known for their high incidence of drugs, drug users, and more obvious drug use. In this chapter, I illustrate how the changing of roles over the course of my professional trajectory, from psychotherapist to anthropologist, changed the perspective on the topic of drug addiction and shaped my research. I argue that anthropologists can learn from psychotherapists in acquiring a sensitivity towards their own emotions and towards the motives underlying their work. Analyzing the emotions can enrich ethnographic data and can also help access other levels of knowledge. The reflection of my feelings throughout the trajectory from the therapist to anthropologist not only helped me to better understand some of the aspects of addicts’ lives, but also opened up new perspectives on substitution maintenance treatment and the limits of healthcare in Prague. I believe that emotions not only affect the directions I took and questions posed in my research, but also that their examination can enrich ethnographic data and can also help access other levels of knowledge.


Substitution Therapy Emotions Self-reflection Ethnography 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tereza Baltag
    • 1
  1. 1.Charles University in Prague, Faculty of HumanitiesPragueCzech Republic

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