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Rediscovering Interpersonal Punctuation.

Authors
  • Hussong, Devin1
  • Efran, Jay S1
  • 1 Department of Psychology, Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia (Hussong); Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia (Efran).
Type
Published Article
Journal
American journal of psychotherapy
Publication Date
Dec 11, 2023
Volume
76
Issue
4
Pages
150–153
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.20230009
PMID: 37448304
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

The term punctuation in psychotherapy refers to narrative decisions about when a problem started and who should be held accountable for it. The concept was once a staple of family and systems therapies, but it has largely fallen into disuse. Its near disappearance coincided with the declining interest in those therapeutic approaches rather than as the result of direct attacks on the concept's validity or usefulness. In other words, punctuation seems to have been neglected rather than deliberately abandoned or supplanted. The authors argue for the continuing value of punctuation and its introduction to a new generation of clinicians. They also discuss several theoretical issues that were not well explored during the heyday of punctuation's popularity. Finally, the authors explore and illustrate the practical utility of punctuation in psychotherapeutic contexts.

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