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

van Rijn, B, Chryssafidou, E and Stiles, W.B. (2020) Searching for safety: Building meaning bridges using digital imagery in school counselling with a female adolescent. Counselling Psychotherapy Research.


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
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.

Searching for safety Author Final.pdf - Accepted Version

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