Vera S. Maass
Living Skills Institute Inc., Indianapolis (IN), USA

E-mail:livskill@iquest.net

 

CONSTRUCTING THE DIALOGICAL SELF IN PSYCHOTHERAPY WITH WOMEN: A MODEL

 

Maslow's (1968) concept of self-actualization assumes the existence of inherent creative abilities. But for every celebrated artist/creator there are several who did not succeed despite their talents. What factors determine whether or not an individual will achieve self-actualization? DeCarvalho (2000) proposed that combinations of self-awareness, assertiveness, and authenticity facilitate the individual's ability to reflect on the process of becoming and the internalization of selected items from the cultural environment, finally leading to self-actualization. Using internal narrative dialogue, individuals can perceptually 'frame' the meaning of a situation in opposite or alternative forms thereby facilitating the selection process about which influences to incorporate into one's being (Jenkins, 2000). Psychotherapy is a setting for exploring alternatives through 'dialectical' thinking and stimulating the development of clients' dialogical self. Significant differences in the recognition of male and female artists' works may indicate differences in their selection process of environmental influences. Some of the cultural elements females incorporate into their sex-role identification are detrimental to the conception of choices and alternatives. Therefore, a psychotherapy approach promoting formation of the dialogical self, as does the proposed model, is vital when working with female clients.