spontaneous-expressive- responsive and bodily way to the activities of another’s being, with their utterances, their bodily expressions, their words and their works. All these authors have in common a focus on the dialogical process in therapy7. They consider the dialogue as an invitation to the participants to influence and be influenced by the interaction between the partners in conversation.
4.4. The Dialogue Language and communication is primarily constitutive of social reality, Bakhtin claimed (1981, 1986); it is not a device for ‘picturing’ or mirroring an already existing language-independent reality (Shotter, 1993). Instead language is seen as creating our world, and it is done in the dialogue. We think, talk and act dialogically (Bakhtin, 1981), new meaning originates on the boundary between one’s own and someone else’s consciousness, when our voices reach out and call others into relation with us.
According to Bakhtin (in Holquist 1990) the dialogue is not solely a way of understanding communication between two people; it is also an epistemological approach to how knowledge is created in relationship and context.
Bakhtin claimed that meaning cannot change physical and material phenomena; meaning is not a material force. It does not need to be because it has the power to change ‘the total contextual meaning of an event and reality without changing its actual (existential) composition of one iota’ (quoted in Morson & Emerson, 1990, p. 476). Everything remains as before, but we understand it in quite another way.
In the next section I shall discuss some concepts that may be helpful to understand why I have chosen the dialogue as the central point of reference in my investigation of the relationship between listening and being heard and of the phenomenon of the emergence of new voices in therapy. The concepts addressed are: Open-ended dialogues, self, polyphony, utterance, addressivity, receptivity, double voice, response, intonation, ‘touching’ and ‘moving’, understanding, unfinalizability, 7
Other schools of therapy i.e. CMM (Cronen&Lang, 1994, Cronen, 1995), Narrative (White, 1995) and Solution Focused (de Shazer, 1985) would also come under the description of therapies that focus on how meaning is created in language and conversations.