Language and Connection in Psychotherapy: Words Matter

Language and Connection in Psychotherapy: Words Matter

by Mary H. Davis


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Language and Connection in Psychotherapy: Words Matter by Mary H. Davis

Language plays a major role in our daily lives. Humans are specialized to live in a social environment, and our brains are “designed” to manage interactions with others which are, for the most part, accomplished through words. Language allows us to function both cognitively and interpersonally, and without language there are constraints on our ability to interact with others.

Language also plays a major role in that specialized form of interpersonal interaction that we call psychotherapy or psychoanalysis. In that setting we use words to express and communicate meaning clearly, and through spoken language we help our patients to organize and modify their experiences of self and of the world, fostering adaptive change.

Like the air we breathe, when our language serves its function it is transparent to us. We notice it most when it fails. When it does fail its basic function, in life and in psychotherapy, it fails to reliably, effectively, and comfortably help us to connect with others, as we deal with the world around us. In Language and Connection in Psychotherapy: Words Matter, Dr. Mary Davis addresses the role of language in our lives, both internally, in creating psychic structure and regulating affect, and interpersonally, in facilitating relationships with the figures that have shaped our development and that inhabit our adult lives. Using clinical material to illustrate, Davis looks at the development of language and its role in creating our personalities, at the life events which can distort our use of language to interact with others, and the ways that language can lead to misunderstanding as well as to understanding.

Throughout, Language and Connection in Psychotherapy: Words Matter explores various facets of the ways in which words matter as well as the times when words are important but not sufficient to our ability to communicate interpersonally. Davis suggests that the psychotherapist is a master in bridging the gap between being and saying: she can be conceptualized as an “interpreter,” one who turns behavioral language into verbal language, action language into words, emotions into thoughts, who focuses and uses the capacity of words to help us connect both with our internal selves and with others.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765708731
Publisher: Aronson, Jason Inc.
Publication date: 11/21/2012
Pages: 130
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Mary Davis, MD, is a board certified psychiatrist and child/adolescent psychiatrist, as well as a graduate psychoanalyst for both children and adults. She has been in practice since 1980, working in inpatient, outpatient, and residential treatment settings. She has been interested in the ways in which language facilitates and interferes with our social functioning since her days in training.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Language of Color and Hope
Chapter 2: Bringing Meaning to Words in Psychotherapy
Chapter 3: Function Follows Form
Chapter 4: Bridging the Gap: Language and Relational Distance
Chapter 5: Normal Language Development
Chapter 6: Interferences with Normal Language Development
Chapter 7: Speaking the Unspeakable: Language and Trauma
Chapter 8: Saying the Unsayable: How We Say What There Are No Words For
Chapter 9: Why (and How) Do Words Matter?
About the Author

What People are Saying About This

Regina Pally

From the perspective of the brain, mental ideas are always expressed in the ‘language’ of the BODY, and sometimes they are also expressed in the ‘language’ of WORDS. Dr. Mary Davis weaves together a series of clear, sensitive, and fully alive clinical stories to illustrate how the analyst must become fluent in both ‘languages’ in order to fully understand and communicate with the patient. This book makes it obvious that Dr. Davis exhibits the rare capacity to hone to the analytic task, while remaining fully engaged and fluid in how she connects with patients.

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