Positioning Shifts From Told Self to Performative Self in Psychotherapy

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Deppermann , A , Scheidt , C E & Stukenbrock , A 2020 , ' Positioning Shifts From Told Self to Performative Self in Psychotherapy ' , Frontiers in Psychology , vol. 11 , 572436 . https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.572436

Title: Positioning Shifts From Told Self to Performative Self in Psychotherapy
Author: Deppermann, Arnulf; Scheidt, Carl Eduard; Stukenbrock, Anja
Contributor organization: Faculty Common Matters
Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies
Date: 2020-10-26
Language: eng
Number of pages: 18
Belongs to series: Frontiers in Psychology
ISSN: 1664-1078
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.572436
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/321221
Abstract: According to Positioning Theory, participants in narrative interaction can position themselves on a representational level concerning the autobiographical, told self, and a performative level concerning the interactive and emotional self of the tellers. The performative self is usually much harder to pin down, because it is a non-propositional, enacted self. In contrast to everyday interaction, psychotherapists regularly topicalize the performative self explicitly. In our paper, we study how therapists respond to clients' narratives by interpretations of the client's conduct, shifting from the autobiographical identity of the told self, which is the focus of the client's story, to the present performative self of the client. Drawing on video recordings from three psychodynamic therapies (tiefenpsychologisch fundierte Psychotherapie) with 25 sessions each, we will analyze in detail five extracts of therapists' shifts from the representational to the performative self. We highlight four findings:• Whereas, clients' narratives often serve to support identity claims in terms of personal psychological and moral characteristics, therapists rather tend to focus on clients' feelings, motives, current behavior, and ways of interacting.• In response to clients' stories, therapists first show empathy and confirm clients' accounts, before shifting to clients' performative self.• Therapists ground the shift to clients' performative self by references to clients' observable behavior.• Therapists do not simply expect affiliation with their views on clients' performative self. Rather, they use such shifts to promote the clients' self-exploration. Yet, if clients resist to explore their selves in more detail, therapists more explicitly ascribe motives and feelings that clients do not seem to be aware of. The shift in positioning levels thus seems to have a preparatory function for engendering therapeutic insights.
Subject: 515 Psychology
conversation analysis
social interaction
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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