Just published in Counseling Psychotherapy Research

Searching for safety: Building meaning bridges using digital imagery in school counselling with a female adolescent, ‘Sally’

First published: 24 March 2020

Contributing authors: William B. Stiles (stileswb@miamioh.edu), Evi Chryssafidou (e.chryssafidou@metanoia.ac.uk).

Abstract

Objectives

According to the assimilation model, psychotherapeutic progress involves building semiotic meaning bridges between disconnected parts of the person. Previous research with a young male client, who was diagnosed with ASP, showed that digital imagery can serve to build inter and intrapersonal relating during counselling. This project aimed to further elaborate that theory with a client of a different gender and with different presenting issues.

Design

This was a qualitative theory‐building case study.

Method

The client was a 16‐year‐old teenager seen in school counselling for 10 sessions who presented with a range of issues: problems with eating, depression and anxiety. She self‐harmed and had suicidal ideation and continued using counselling services after the end of the research project. Assimilation analysis used screen and accompanying voice recordings of the ten sessions, during the research project where she participated in an evaluation of cybertherapy software designed for therapy and coaching.

Results

The client created three main digital scenes. The first scene represented difficulties she experienced in her everyday life; the second scene represented a longed for experience of safety, and the third her attempts to connect the two. The imagery and meanings evolved across this segment of treatment, providing a channel of interpersonal and intra‐personal communication.

Conclusions

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

Publication in Counselling and Psychotherapy Research

First page image

 

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   https://doi.org/10.1002/capr.12230

Abstract

Objectives

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.

Design

This was a qualitative theory‐building case study.

Method

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.

Results

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.

Conclusion

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