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November 2021

Beyond empathy - A hermeneutically inspired inquiry into interpersonal understanding in psychotherapy

Author(s): Dawda, D.

Journal/Book: Theor Psychol. 1999; 9: 2455 Teller Rd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320, USA. Sage Publications Inc. 459-481.

Abstract: A Critical, hermeneutically inspired interpretation of interpersonal understanding is presented as a clarification of, and supplement to, extant accounts of psychotherapeutic empathy. Particular emphasis is placed on the achievement of a degree of self-distanciation from one's own pre-understanding, and a partial penetration of the symbolic orders and sociocultural situatedness of the other through a critical dialogue of open question and answer, together with a dialogically emergent appreciation of the social power practices inherent in the psychotherapeutic encounter itself. It is concluded that subjectivist accounts provide inadequate bases for the kinds of change assumed in most theories of psychotherapeutic empathy and understanding. Only when the possibility of heightened self and other-understanding is preserved in a non-subjectivist, critical interpretation that respects individual subjective experience without,granting it epistemic privilege do the institution and practice of psychotherapy maintain a coherent rationale.

Note: Article Martin J, Simon Fraser Univ, Grad Studies Off, Burnaby, BC VSA 1S6, CANADA

Keyword(s): empathy; hermeneutics; interpersonal understanding; psychotherapy


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