Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 12-16-2022


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Lori E. Koelsch

Committee Member

Russell Walsh

Committee Member

Angela Sandone-Barr


modern psychoanalysis, psychotherapeutic process, integrative psychology, emotional communication, joining, mirroring, relational psychoanalysis, qualitative inquiry


This dissertation intends to address current deficits in knowledge regarding the modern psychoanalytic interventions of joining and mirroring, including substantial definition issues in the literature and the absence of current writings on the psychotherapeutic interventions of joining and mirroring in practice. The focus of the study was on the ever-dynamic landscape between modern analytically-informed practitioners and their clients in psychotherapeutic exchange(s) that the practitioners believed encompassed joining and/or mirroring interventions. Participants were six experienced practitioners who described their clinical work as being informed by modern psychoanalysis and who have engaged or were currently engaging in individual psychotherapy with a client. Participating practitioners were asked to identify and describe salient moment(s) and/or exchange(s) with a client in individual psychotherapy, with an emphasis on the emotional, behavioral, interpersonal and intrapersonal elements during these moments. Thematic analysis of interviews produced four themes: (1) initiation – an inciting moment; (2) guiding elements; (3) markers of effectiveness; and (4) comparisons between joining and mirroring. The result is a less abstract, vastly updated, and more robust understanding of joining and mirroring interventions as they are utilized in a modern psychoanalytically-informed practice. Less-known aspects of joining and mirroring, which are usually circulated verbally by practitioners, were articulated, thus improving the accessibility and relevance of modern psychoanalytic literature to a wider audience. Research from other fields were integrated to extend the potential efficacy and mechanisms of action underlying joining and mirroring interventions, thereby contributing to a deeper understanding of how the process of therapeutic change can operate through these interventions.