Daring moments: improvisational movements as relational responsivity
Subject Categories::C890 Psychology not elsewhere classified
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AbstractThis research dissertation is a study on relational responsivity, looking at spontaneous activity and improvisational movements in relational contexts, with implications for therapy practice. I study improvisational movements through the generation of a collection of creative writings and reflexive essays. I create examples of relational movement from within the doing of therapy and I also show and discuss examples from other everyday relational contexts. In particular, I explore the role of spontaneity, improvisation, and imagination in relational moments – whether in a supermarket or in the boxing gym, or buying flowers. I use metaphors and theories from other contexts which open new doorways to help me understand better what it is I do with others in the micro-practices of living movements of relational practice. In the essays in this thesis, I use a range of literary styles to tell stories that are infused with philosophical reflection. The stories are threaded with discussions of new materialist theory and core systemic ideas such as reflexivity, relational ethics, collaborative action, contextual knowing, and the de-centring of power. I have chosen an approach to studying relational practice in my work and elsewhere in my life using first-person research – a combination of relational ethnographic practice and performative writing. The writing is inspired by the oral practices of storytelling as a method of inquiry, which also reflects the place of storytelling in the practice of systemic therapy. I am concerned with mirroring and extending the ethics of systemic practice into the relationship between writer and reader, attending to the dialogic agenda of holding the audience in mind. The systemic practices of reflexivity and transparency have played a guiding role in developing my research writing ethically. In both my professional practice and my research practice, I use transparency, reflexivity, and creativity to show relational choices and actions across different contexts; to discuss the processes involved in orientating my ways of knowing how to go on with people and activities; to show my position for the time being; and to obtain experiential understanding of distances between different positions. The stories in this thesis show complex and intimate dialogical and relational movements and processes as well as intimate learning in motion from within relational activities. These stories pay special attention to our improvisational activities, to our sense of what is right and needed in relationships. The rendering transparent of inner dialogue and dilemmas opens up aspects of relational practice which practitioners often feel safer to keep to ourselves. The essays are infusions of systemic, dialogical, narrative, and new materialist theory, and together act as a method of reflection on relational practice and transformations. I bring alive the new materialist perspective on systems and social structures, using new materialist theory in the context of practice. I link practice-inspired, reflexive and imaginative explorations of indeterminacy and diffraction – concepts from quantum physics-philosophy – with the wave-like behaviour of relational movements in practice. I introduce some developments on systemic practice theory by presenting new concepts such as aesthetic ambiguity and relational conviction, which draw attention to the ethics of embodied understandings and subjectivity as a relation of responsibility to the other. I politicise the discomfort we can feel when embracing emergent learning-fromwithin-the-doing and regard relational knowing as a political act showing how making something with or for others always require daring, stepping away from what is familiar to us. The thesis concludes with reflections on the research process and the methodology and identifies the usefulness of this research in the training and professional development of psychotherapists and members of allied professions.
CitationMichopoulou, J (2020) 'Daring moments: improvisational movements as relational responsivity'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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