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Bucci, W. Maskit, B. (2007). Beneath the Surface of the Therapeutic Interaction: The Psychoanalytic Method in Modern Dress. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 55(4):1355-1397.

(2007). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 55(4):1355-1397

Beneath the Surface of the Therapeutic Interaction: The Psychoanalytic Method in Modern Dress

Wilma Bucci and Bernard Maskit

This study represents a new generation of psychotherapy process research, using multiple perspectives on the data of the analytic situation, including impressions of the treating analyst, ratings of complete sessions by clinical judges, and objective linguistic measures. Computerized measures of language style developed in the framework of multiple code theory were applied to verbatim session recordings from a psychoanalytic case; the measures are illustrated in microanalyses of the process in two sessions. The results show agreement between the linguistic measures and clinical ratings based on a psychoanalytic perspective. The linguistic measures look beneath the surface of the therapeutic interaction by relying largely on lexical items of which clinicians are not likely to be explicitly aware, and enable a new perspective on the therapeutic discourse as seen in the graphic images of the microprocess. While the results of this study were limited to a single case, the automatized measures can be readily applied to large samples and in repeated single case designs. Two goals of process research, using measures such as those developed in this study, are discussed: to develop measures of mediating variables that can be used to identify specific treatment effects in comparative outcome studies; and, beyond this pragmatic aim, to assess development of capacities for self-exploration and self-regulation as psychoanalytic treatment goals.

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