Reconstructing agency by shifting perspective in trauma narrative
In the treatment of sexual abuse victims reconstructing the abuse narrative from fragmented memories and gaining back a healthy sense of agency are major objectives of therapeutic interventions. Our analysis of the psychotherapy process in case of a sexual abuse victim analyzes in-session interaction in terms of joint construction of narrative by client and therapist in psychodynamic psychotherapy, focusing on the immediate effects of the therapist’s single interventions on the reconstruction of the client’s self-narratives. We discourse analyze the interaction of one audio recorded therapy session. We examine narrative perspective (NP) in the text using our discourse-based model of perspective. Our analysis reveals how — in the course of reconstructing the abuse narrative with the help of her therapist — a reconstruction of agency and patiency takes place through shifting the client’s NP. The client’s perspective of her own role as agent goes through gradual shifts as the interaction progresses. The therapist has a crucial role in the reconstruction process by influencing the client’s perspective shifting behavior through shifting NP in her own interventions. Implications for psychotherapy research and clinical practice are discussed.
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