A linguistic analysis of Gestalt psychotherapy discourse

Germinario, Renato (2015) A linguistic analysis of Gestalt psychotherapy discourse. MRes thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3106091


This study is a linguistic exploration of Gestalt psychotherapy discourse. Since psychotherapy is an important institution with distinctive conversational features, studying psychotherapy discourse from a linguistic perspective has interested many linguists. Labov and Fanshel (1977), Ferrara (1994), Lakoff (2001a, 2001b), Kövecses (2001), and Tay (2003) examine psychotherapy discourse in a variety of approaches such as psychoanalysis and ego psychology (Labov and Fanshel). However, very little work has been done on examining only one approach to psychotherapy. Since each psychotherapy approach shapes the resulting discourse, certain observations and conclusions from the studies above do not fit within the context of Gestalt psychotherapy discourse. The current study incorporates aspects from studies such as frame analysis, and conceptual metaphor theory and also utilizes a perspective that has not been applied to psychotherapy discourse, that is, Ryan’s (1980) principle of minimal departure and categories.

This study uses Labov and Fanshel’s (1977) frames (the interview frame, the narrative frame and the family frame), for analysis. I have adapted the family frame and have expanded it into a novel frame, the contact frame with its corresponding style, contact style. Furthermore, I propose a novel corresponding narrative style to the contact frame, the here-and-now narrative style. In addition to frame analysis, possible world theory (specifically Ryan’s (1980) principle of minimal departure and categories) is utilised to describe what linguistically occurs during Gestalt psychotherapy role-play. As far as I am aware, this is the first time Ryan’s theory has been applied to psychotherapy discourse. Conceptual metaphor theory examines conceptual representations known as metaphors. Certain experiences may be too abstract to articulate with literal language, so metaphors make abstractions concrete, and this aids both the psychotherapist and client.

The purpose of this study is to describe how Gestalt psychotherapists consciously and unconsciously use language for a specific purpose, that is, to raise a client’s awareness and to affect behavioural change. I believe this study can contribute to the linguistic understanding of the nature of Gestalt psychotherapy discourse, and consequently, add to our general understanding of discourse. Gestalt psychotherapists in training could also benefit from this project: as the mechanisms underlying psychotherapy discourse are further unveiled, trainees can more quickly acquire the skills to produce effective psychotherapy discourse.

Item Type: Thesis (MRes)
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Discourse analysis, frame analysis, conceptual metaphor theory, possible worlds and the principle of minimal departure, gestalt psychotherapy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Supervisor's Name: Emmott, Dr. Catherine
Date of Award: 2015
Embargo Date: 25 March 2021
Depositing User: Mr. Renato/RG Germinario
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6218
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 May 2015 12:30
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 10:50
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/6218

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