The development of self involves integration of feeling and language. Psychotherapy requires communicative exchange, where verbal processes are embodied, and associated with affective experience, with autonomic accompaniments. The theoretical, experimental, and philosophical underpinnings of an inter-subjective research paradigm involving concurrent assessment of conversation, and autonomic response, between patient and therapist, are explored. Pilot data demonstrate a correlation between autonomic response and perceived significance, as gauged by self-report of transcripts. A linguistic basis for psychotherapy process is proposed where the structure of conversation, with “given” and “new” informational components, shaped through “analogical responsiveness”, provides a model for transformation of self.
This presentation draws upon Karen’s treatise in the Master of Science in Medicine (Psychotherapy) degree at the University of Sydney. The heart of this presentation is a clinical vignette involving a patient with borderline personality disorder who was treated by the Conversational Model of psychotherapy (CM) in the Westmead Psychotherapy Program for Complex Traumatic Disorders. An excerpt from a clinical transcript, and patient drawings, will be examined in light of the common ground between patient and therapist. Specifically, shared unconscious traumatic memories will be discussed through the lenses of somatic countertransference (SCT) and clinical material.
The Conversational Model with its focus on affect, trauma and the minute particulars is well-suited to bridging the communications gap between people that find themselves alienated and at odds with each other. This paper will give a brief overview of the conversational model and offer a perspective on couples therapy from this vantage point. It suggests that subtle misinterpretations and misunderstandings of the other's communications are rooted in each owns traumatic past that may be preverbal and inaccessible to reflective awareness.
"It is language which created humans, rather than human’s language.” While self is first experienced in relation to another, the emergence of a mature self occurs in relation to a multiplicity of others in embodied communicative relationships to an individual. While "free association" is often thought of as psychoanalytic technique, it is argued that the primary form of free association is relational, and inter-subjective. In modern democratic societies the range of associative possibilities for the investment of individual lives leads to an enormous range of "forms of life". The developmental form involves a spiral of growth embedded in communicative exchange, and person-environment interaction. In humans, physiological homeostasis is a dynamic process that includes, at its highest level, shared understanding, contributing to the embedding of self in the physicality of the body. Such growth is impeded by traumatic experience that has its basis in the inter-subjective field.