Reconciling the Digital Self in Psychotherapy

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of Social Sciences


Digital culture is changing the 'subject' of psychotherapy (Sweet, 2014). When psychotherapists enquire into the lives of their clients, they are no longer dealing with fixed, co-present identities, but an extensive network of online experiences and personas mediated through social media platforms (Ponce, Kuss and Griffiths, 2015). This engagement with digital technologies facilitates distinct forms of social exchange and practices of self-formation that complicate notions of who and what therapists are dealing with (Lemma and Caparrotta, 2013). Mediated forms of subjectivity and their online relations are transforming the classical therapeutic view of the self (Ballick, 2012).
The proposed research seeks to explore the ontological orientation of clients engaged in digital practices of online monitoring and exchange, and their self-forming activities, as constitutive of the troubled selves encountered in psychotherapy. Using 'assemblage theory' (Delanda, 2006) and Goffman's (1990) 'presentation of self' as frameworks for inquiry, the research seeks to understand online activities of social networking as processes through which 'the self' is assembled and presented within complex dynamics of mutual recognition. Arguably, the extension of self beyond traditional boundaries and its hyper-connectivity with material cultures presents new opportunities and challenges for psychotherapy.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1947222 Studentship ES/P00069X/1 01/10/2017 31/12/2021 Mason Neely