Volume 6   Number 1     Spring 2012

Therapeutic Change, Innovative Moments, and the Reconceptualization
     of the Self: A Dialogical Account

Miguel M. Gonçalves
António P. Ribeiro
University of Minho, Braga, Portugal
pp. 81-98

ABSTRACT. Innovative moments (IMs) are exceptions toward the problematic self-narrative that brought the client to therapy, which emerge in the therapeutic conversation. Dialogically, an IM might be conceived as an expression of an alternative I-position which challenges the dominance of problematic voices, thus having the potential to transform the self-narrative as they are expanded and elaborated. Reconceptualization is a particular type of IM which usually emerges in the middle of the process of a successful treatment, increasing steadily until the end. Moreover, reconceptualization seems to be a distinctive feature of a successful psychotherapy process, as it is almost absent in poor outcome cases. This IM has two main features: the presence of a contrast between a previous self-narrative and a new emergent one, and the access to the process which allowed for the transformation from the former to the last. This innovative moment clearly involves a special I-position which Hermans has characterized as a meta-position. We discuss four functions of this type of IM in the change process: (1) providing a narrative structure for change; (2) bridging the past and present self-narratives; (3) facilitating the progressive identification with the new self-narrative; and (4) allowing surpassing the ambivalence often involved in the change process.