In this paper two researchers who position themselves within an emergent psychosocial current in the UK apply the concept to a segment of film footage of an interaction (part of an empirical qualitative research project) to explore what Alfred Lorenzer’s theory of scenic understanding can add to our existing methodological resources. The film footage shows the creation of a poem by Darren, a 16-year-old offender, and Bob, a local poet employed in a project investigating the rehabilitative potential of one-to-one creative writing sessions. The authors contrast the transcript of this encounter with a ‘scenic composition’, a device they developed to communicate to a research readership the scenic experience of watching a filmed interaction. This contrast forms the basis for bringing together a series of post-Kleinian ideas about modes of knowing (syncretistic perception, reverie, transitional space) with Lorenzer’s scenic understanding. Through the idea of provocations in the text, the authors focus on the researcher’s emotional experience to explore the psychosocial character of the meanings that emerge concerning Darren’s claim, ‘I’m not clever’, and how these meanings are communicated amongst Darren, Bob and the researcher. Through the lens of symbolised and unsymbolised emotional experience, play and triangular space, the authors consider Darren’s ambivalent relationship to the creative writing activity and conclude with a short discussion of the conceptualisation of unconscious processes suitable to a psychosocial data analytic methodology.