Despite the differences in the schools of therapy, the concept of empathy on the part of the therapists is described in a similar manner, with its achievement being regarded as decisive for successful therapeutic work. It is however astounding that even with the high regard that empathy has, there have been hardly any empirical studies to date on achieving empathy in a therapeutic process. And this is where the research project is set to commence and focus on.
Empathy has to present itself in the therapeutic "conversation" (Freud), and that not solely in words, but there as well. Empathy is a "conversational co-production", i.e. it is achieved by both interlocutors in a shared process. And this process can be described in sequences (so-called communicative turns). What interests us is
In addition to the conversation analysis studies, the prosody at selected places is also subject to a separate study. It is known from infant and toddler research among others how the attachment figure or psychological parent and the child relate to each other in a language melodic (i.e. prosodic) manner, and that doing do, a steady cycle of "repairs" occurs, which have also been described in the study of therapeutic dialogues as rupture-repair cycles (RRC). And it is exactly in this respect that the tone is set, as all clinicians know – and Finnish writers with whom we have exchanges have presented some interesting initial findings here.
With this project, we also intend to pursue a further aim. The debates and arguments between the differing therapy method schools usually occur on the level of conceptual exchanges and blows; we intend to study whether the three schools named also make a distinction when handling typical difficult situations (TDS), etc. in terms of the dimensions named – the rupture-repair cycles, the establishment of common ground and the articulation formats of the recipient design.
Sound recordings of psychotherapeutic sessions in the Munich Psychotherapy Study (Prof. Dr. Dr. Dorothea Huber) serve as the data set. They are carefully transcribed (based on the GAT conversation analysis transcription system) and undergo a conversation analysis process.
The psychotherapy recordings cover the three therapy procedures approved by the statutory German health insurance companies:
We have selected five therapies from each of the three therapy methods. From these five therapies, one hour at the beginning, one in the middle and one at the end are to be transcribed in each case. This corresponds to a data volume of 45 therapy hours. The transcriptions occur in accordance with the GAT conversation analysis transcription system.
Cooperative work with the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Research on Intersubjectivity (Prof. Dr. Anssi Peräkylä) at Helsinki University has already begun. Prof. Dr. Jörg Bergmann, the former Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Bielefeld, is acting as an external consultant. Prof. Dr. Uli Reich, a linguist at the Free University Berlin has stated his commitment to work on the project.
Anyone interested in writing a Bachelor or Master thesis or even conducting doctoral work on sub-themes in the project should please contact us. We are more than happy to discuss potential themes with you.