Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

The Musical Edge of Therapeutic Dialogue

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

The Musical Edge of Therapeutic Dialogue

Article excerpt

STEVEN H. KNOBLAUCH: The Musical Edge of Therapeutic Dialogue. Analytic Press, Hillsdale, NJ, 2000, 175 pp., $33.50, ISBN: 0-88163-297-X.

The author has had dual careers as both a jazz musician and a psychologist. Now involved with a number of analytic and therapeutic institutes in New York City, he brings to the reader a synthesis of his two life interests. To Knoblauch, much of what transpires in the meeting of therapist and patient is conveyed more than metaphorically by musical terms. The working vocabulary of this art explicitly describes clinical events. Rhythm, for example, is concretely present in a session, and its smoothness, abruptness, and shifts convey affect, and disruptions or continuity in the alliance. High or low, light or heavy tonality appears in the vocal registers of both patient and analyst during important stretches of a session, in which their meaning dare not be ignored. The turn-taking of clinician and client as they wait out, interrupt, or evenly engage in dialogue, is similar to musical forms of improvisation or accompaniment. Counterpoint is illustrated by moments of approach, avoidance or response in the treatment dyad, especially where they are signposts of erotic aspects of the transference and of the patient's body- and self-awareness. And equivalents of consonance and dissonance can be heard in a variety of interactions.

Knoblauch's illustrations of these and more cross-field connections are always vivid and lively, drawn from his own analytic and therapeutic work. The focus shifts seamlessly between patients' outside-life descriptive content, here-and-now emotional experience within the hour, and Knoblauch's own awareness of countertransference and technical dilemmas. The current interest in an intersubjective framework informs this approach, and the author is open and unsparing about his own preoccupations and reactions, constructive and obstructive. …

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