The Importance of Affective Containment for Teacher Effectiveness and Successful Educational Change

  • Chris James
Part of the Professional Learning and Development in Schools and Higher Education book series (PROD, volume 100)


For teachers, lecturers and those with leadership and management responsibility in schools and colleges, controlling the experience of feelings—especially difficult feelings—and the feelings experienced by others can be extremely hard. Furthermore, attempts by individuals and organisations to protect themselves against unwelcome feelings by engaging in defensive behaviours may not be helpful. Such efforts can create distance, defensiveness and “affective anorexia”, where the affective experience of teaching and managing is minimised, and can reduce both individual and collective effectiveness and change capability. Another and arguably more productive way of working with feelings is affective containment where feelings can be “held” individually and collectively (placed and secured in a “container” in a metaphorical sense), reflected upon, learned from and used to good effect. This transformation process, which is known as affective containment, can enhance individual and collective effectiveness and capacity to change. The intention of this chapter is to develop the notion of affective containment and to consider its potential role in securing and augmenting teacher effectiveness and helping to bring about successful educational change.


Primary Task Organisation Member Work Organisation Defensive Behaviour Social Defence 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationUniversity of BathBathUK

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