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Working with symbolic transference: a Lacanian perspective on executive coaching

  • Vanheule, Stijn
  • Arnaud, Gilles
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2016
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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The present study explores how aspects of Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic theory can be applied to coaching, focusing on corporate dysfunction. Conceptually, the article starts from Lacan’s distinction between the registers of the Imaginary and the Symbolic, as outlined in his L-schema, and the concept of transference. It is argued that by focusing on symbolic transference, and by exploring signifiers that insistently return in a patient’s speech, Lacanian-oriented coaching can bring clients to the point of recognizing the unconscious determinants of their daily interactions and behavior, and make a step toward dealing differently with their desire, such that it no longer has a disrupting effect on their performance. Principles for individual coaching are outlined and two case studies are presented. The case discussions reveal that desire and conflict can be clarified by mapping and addressing core signifiers of the client’s speech.

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