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Bady, S.L. (1985). The Voice as a Curative Factor in Psychotherapy. Psychoanal. Rev., 72(3):479-490.

(1985). Psychoanalytic Review, 72(3):479-490

The Voice as a Curative Factor in Psychotherapy

Susan Lee Bady, M.S.W.

The cry of the newborn baby activates his breathing mechanism and heralds his arrival into the world. It also constitutes his first vocalization-a wordless communication of new life that later evolves into a complexity and a pattern according to the culture which shapes him.

This paper discusses the vocalization that occurs in psychotherapy and suggests ways it contributes to the healing process. My ideas are based on clinical experience as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, psychological and medical research on the voice, and my experiences as an amateur singer and voice student.

Leo Stone (1961) states that the vocalization which is patterned into speech is the medium, the technical instrument, by which therapists carry out their work. It is a vehicle of object relationship which arises at a time when intimate contact with the mother is coming to an end. In the psychotherapeutic situation, he says,

the communication of insight, the neutralizing of instinctual energies, the conversion of primary-process elements into directed thought, the extension of the integrating scope of the ego, all are mediated in good part through the indispensable function of speech, (p. 100)

It is also interesting to note that all the various forms of psychoanalysis that have evolved since its inception as well as the myriad different types of therapy that have newly developed maintain a striking similarity: virtually all methods involve two or more persons talking together.

I will not be focusing on that aspect of speech involving the particular words that are uttered. The importance of the well-chosen word is fully acknowledged by psychotherapists and has received much attention by other writers.

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