Regulating Affective Involvement in In-Session Verbal Interaction by Shifting Perspective: A Longitudinal Study of One Client-Therapist Dyad in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
Our study examined in-session affect regulation as a self-regulatory process as well as a process of interpersonal regulation during the psychoanalytical therapeutic session. We used a novel approach for studying affective involvement by analyzing narrative perspective (NP) taken by client and analyst. In a longitudinal study of 18 months we observed the interaction of one client—therapist dyad during the psychoanalytic session in the early and working phases of psychotherapy. Transcribed sessions were segmented into intonation units, and participants’ use of NP was then coded for each intonation unit line based on six linguistic variables shown to signal affective involvement in earlier studies: verb tense, subject number and person, diegesis, focalization, and discourse level. We found that affective involvement on the part of both speakers was higher at the working phase. The client’s involvement was higher than the therapist’s. We describe an affect-regulation cycle characteristic of the interaction. Our approach proves to be useful in analyzing regulation of affective involvement and its long term change. Differences were detectable in the self and interactive regulatory strategies of affective involvement.
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