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Clinical facts, turning points and complexity theory

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In this paper, I explore how we might link ideas about clinical facts to current issues in child psychotherapy research. I consider what our understanding of clinical facts might contribute to our research methods and how our research methods might better represent the clinical facts. The paper introduces a selection of psychoanalytic writers' formulations of the concept and describes some of the debates about the shortcomings of the traditional style of case reporting. The importance of keeping emotional experience central in our research is discussed. I describe a research method that I believe has the potential to capture and describe some of the complicated processes of change in psychotherapy. This is the concept of the 'turning point' session. Introducing the paradigm of complexity theory, I briefly explore how we might think about and understand the relationship between processes revealed through detailed analysis of a single session and change over a longer period of therapy.
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Keywords: 'Clinical facts'; 'chaos theory'; intersubjectivity; psychoanalytic psychotherapy; research methods; single case study

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, London, NW3 5BA, UK

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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