The Dialogical Self in Psychotherapy

The Dialogical Self in Psychotherapy

The Dialogical Self in Psychotherapy

The Dialogical Self in Psychotherapy


How can a theory of the self be used to understand the psychotherapeutic process? The basic assumption of the 'dialogical self' is that there is no centralised 'headquarter' in the mind, but that the internal self is made up of a number of different 'characters'. Interpersonal relationships, from infancy onwards, become internalised - these internalised relationships then influence relationships during life. The Dialogical Self in Psychotherapy is divided into four clear and accessible sections, which explore: * theoretical and historical assumptions of the dialogical self from different angles: psychological, developmental and neurobiological * the relationships between Dialogical Self Therapy and the authors' own theoretical perspectives * treatment of clients suffering from severe disorders * method and research. The Dialogical Self in Psychotherapy gathers together psychotherapists from divergent origins to explore current thinking in the field: cognitive, constructivist, process-experiential, narrative, psychodynamic, psychodramatic, humanistic, and cognitive analytic. This innovative book brings together inter- and intra-subjective dialogue and clearly demonstrates how they are incorporated into the therapeutic process.


Hubert J.M. Hermans and Giancarlo Dimaggio

This book is generated by the theoretical marriage of two concepts, self and dialogue, representing different traditions in the history of human thought. After centuries of philosophical discussions about the human soul, William James (1890) was one of the main thinkers who proposed a conception of the self that would have an enormous impact on theory and research in American psychology of the twentieth century. In the period that American psychologists, inspired by James, Mead and other theorists, were giving shape to a 'psychology of the self', there emerged in Russia a dialogical school inspired by the literary scientist Mikhail Bakhtin (1973, 1981), who presented a fine-grained analysis of the human capacity for communication and interchange. The 'dialogical self' brings these two concepts, self and dialogue, together in such a way that a fertile field of theory, research and practice is disclosed.

Self-narratives as spatially structured and multivoiced

One of the developments, influenced by the American psychology of the self, is the narrative approach dealing with the various ways in which people tell stories about themselves and the world (e.g. Bruner 1986; Sarbin 1986). Narrative psychologists posed a question which is of immediate significance for psychotherapists working with the stories of their clients: how do clients organize their self-narratives and how do they reorganize it over time (Angus and McLeod 2004)?

It is one of the premises of the dialogical self that self-narratives are not only temporally but also spatially structured. The person who is telling a story is doing so from a particular position in space and time (Hermans and Kempen 1993). When the storyteller is positioned, there is always another position, in the environment or in the self, involved. The spatial organization of self-narratives has a far-reaching implication: when a narrative is told, there is not simply one story with a beginning, middle and ending, that is 'owned' by the teller of the story and can be, as a ready-made chapter of a book, communicated to another person. Rather, a self-narrative is

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