Publication in Counselling and Psychotherapy Research

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Our article is published as part of a Special Section: Therapists and Knowledge. Guest Editors: Sofie Bager‐Charleson, Alistair Mcbeath & Simon Du Plock

Digital images as meaning bridges: Case study of assimilation using avatar software in counselling with a 14‐year‐old boy

First published: 24 May 2019



According to the assimilation model, psychotherapeutic progress involves building semiotic meaning bridges between disconnected parts of the person. Previous research has focused on verbal meaning bridges; this case study investigated whether and how digital imagery might serve as well.


This was a qualitative theory‐building case study.


The client was a 14‐year‐old boy with autism spectrum disorder seen in school counselling for 60 sessions. Assimilation analysis was applied to screen recordings and accompanying voice recording nine sessions, drawn from an early part of his treatment, during which he participated in an evaluation of video game‐like software designed for therapy and coaching.


The client created avatars representing aspects of himself and significant others, and scenes representing his problems and coping. The imagery and meanings evolved across this segment of treatment, providing a channel of interpersonal and intra‐personal communication.


Observations showed how digital imagery can serve as meaning bridges between client and counsellor, and between internal parts of the client.

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