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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"Right Words" in therapy Ozier, Douglas Philip


Philosopher and psychotherapy theorist Eugene Gendlin proposes that clients' autonomic somatic responses during therapy provide a trustworthier gauge of the experiential usefulness of therapist interventions than do clients' consciously mediated assessments. Building on this basic proposition Gendlin argues that therapists should only pursue moments in therapy that provoke a subtle, embodied, signature response within clients, or what he labels a "carrying forward" reaction. The validity of Gendlin's description of small carrying forward responses has never been rigorously investigated. In this work two separate articles address this gap in the literature through complementary approaches. The first article considers the theoretical plausibility of Gendlin's central claim that human beings can effectively evaluate abstract social stimuli (like therapist verbalizations) through nonconsciously mediated processes enacted in the body. In order to speak to this plausibility issue the first article considers Gendlin's carrying forward construct in light of Antonio Damasio's somatic marker hypothesis, a parallel model of human evaluation processes that has amassed compelling validity support. The second article describes an experiment that used both psychophysiological monitoring and assessment of subjects' perceptual self reports in order to directly investigate the validity of Gendlin's description of the carrying forward construct.

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