The therapeutic conversation as musical composition

The therapeutic conversation as musical composition


Movement that predicts an outcome is central to life and central to the Self. This movement aims towards ‘biological efficiency’ (as opposed to mechanical efficiency), which we experience in ourselves and others as ‘graceful’ or ‘musical’, or ‘well-done.’ Because thinking and feeling ultimately represent directed movement, so the notions of graceful, musical, and well-done can be extended to the felt-sense of our own thinking and feeling, as well as our experience of others’ thinking and feelings as expressed in their words, their prosody, and their accompanying non-verbal actions in intimate interactions with our own.

This embodied intentionality appears in humans at the end of the first trimester of gestation. ‘Patterns of action’ held within a shared ‘intrinsic motive pulse’ can be observed between infants in intimate relationship with loving caregivers. And not just infants, but humans of all ages, seek to have their felt and acted impulses of vitality attuned to by others as they share experiences in order to make sense of them, in order to create companionable relationships, and in order to act upon the world. These sense-making and relationship-building actions with others arise from a shared coherence of brain activity through time. This intuitive human activity has been called Communicative Musicality.

The therapeutic relationship, as seen from a point of view of Communicative Musicality, involves giving attention to the shaping of the vitality of the interpersonal narrative, and the sense of ‘balance’ and ‘thematic development’ in this interaction, as it moves through time. This sense of degree of balance and development can be initially intuited by the therapist in the moment, in ‘felt immediacy’, just as a loving caregiver intuits their intersubjective response to their infant. An important role of the therapist, as seen through the lens of Communicative Musicality, is to be sensitive to and consciously foster a more creative, more balancing, longer-term musicality for the client.

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