Lecture by Adler '00 explores psychotherapy, personal stories

Jonathan Adler ’00, who researches intersections between psychotherapy, personal identity and the stories we tell about ourselves, offers a lecture on his work at 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, in Bates College’s Pettengill Hall, Keck Classroom (G52), 4 Andrews Road (Alumni Walk).

The talk, Talking about the Talking Cure: Psychotherapy Narratives and Mental Health, is sponsored by the Bates Psychology Club and open to the public at no cost.

A doctoral candidate in psychology at Northwestern University, Adler explores links between psychotherapy stories and mental health. His work has been covered by The New York Times and Australian Public Radio.

The theory of narrative identity proposes that the collection of stories we tell about ourselves constitutes our sense of self. Such stories often arise from psychotherapy, which marks an important experience in the evolution of identity. Indeed, many people feel that therapy helps fundamentally change who they are.

We create stories about such transformations to consolidate and hold on to the experience. If therapy changes identity, the story of the therapeutic experience serves as the axis upon which narrative identity turns. Yet, Alder notes, therapy stories are also important in developing and maintaining mental health during and after treatment.

Therefore, understanding the nuances of therapy stories can potentially inform theory, research and clinical practice concerning identity development, psychotherapy processes and outcomes, and the intersections of these fields.

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