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Merchant, J. (2016). The Use of Skype in Analysis and Training: A Research and Literature Review. J. Anal. Psychol., 61(3):309-328.

(2016). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 61(3):309-328

The Use of Skype in Analysis and Training: A Research and Literature Review

John Merchant, Ph.D.

Of recent years there has not only been an increasing use of Skype in analytic treatment, supervision and teaching, but also a number of writers have been endeavouring to assess its effectiveness. Whilst it is generally agreed that Skype can facilitate an analytic encounter where distance prohibits a face-to-face process, where continuity needs to be maintained and where analysands are in areas far from specialized centres, there is divergence in the literature as to whether analysis, as opposed to psychotherapy, can be successful using Skype. This paper reviews the literature and concludes that the essentials of a genuine analytic process are not necessarily precluded by Skype. One central reason is because there exists a cross-modal communication channel between the human senses (underpinned by audiovisual mirror neurons) in addition to the recently discovered instinct for communication and interpersonal understanding, and these can override the need for physical proximity of the participants. The essentials of an analytic frame can thus be maintained, and the continuity that Skype enables means that containment is also facilitated and this counters the negative aspects of shuttle analysis. The critical issues for the profession then become the professional development for practitioners in the use of Skype and suggestions are listed.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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