Affective symbolizations of the meeting between a psychologist and a transsexual: textual analysis of reports between clinical practice and context of intervention.

Valentina Boursier


In clinical psychology the activity of reporting is often a fundamental, indivisible part of clinical work, closely connected to it as a reflection on the practice (Lancia, 1990), orienting the intervention and explaining change. Insofar as suspending action and pausing in a space of potential signification makes it possible to reflect on events, the activity of reporting becomes a tool for exploration, a vehicle of knowledge and understanding of the self, the other and the relationship (and of the context establishing the relationship) between oneself and the other person. But ‘reporting’/’giving an account’ (in Italian ‘reso-contare’) seems to embrace different shades of meaning, depending on whether the scales are tipped more towards the first or the second factor, towards the ‘giving’ or the ‘account’. The Italian ‘resoconto’ comes from the Latin ‘rendere’, once ‘rĕddere’, transformed under the influence of ‘vendere’ (sell) and ‘prendere’ (take) (cfr. Cortelazzo & Zolli, 1999), and it means “giving”, but also “representing, expressing, describing, translating”. So, while on the one hand there is the implicit reference to the dimension of the relationship entailing an exchange of giving and taking, and at the same time there is an aspect of evaluation or result, both in terms of  debits and credits, on the other hand, there is the implicit idea of an expressiveness underway, a progressive unfolding. Yet again, thinking about the value of an ‘account’, what happens enriches the idea of a communication which, being transmitted, becomes a story. 
As a “detailed narration”, with the intent of accounting for (giving back, translating, telling) something to someone, the report therefore contains in itself sender and addressee, subject and purpose, text and context.
It remains to be seen, therefore, what is written in a clinical report? Who writes it, who is it written for, and above all, why? The answers to these questions seem to combine in the description of a context, which is the scenario and device for structuring and making sense of the report, as well as of the psychological encounter.  
Depending on whether the domain is personal, of training, comparative or divulgative and whether the report is therefore addressed to a public, be it of superiors (supervision), of peers (intervision) or the scientific community, the writer narrates the story of another person and of their meeting, and more or less explicitly, of himself;  he writes for himself or to share with others or understand, through others, something about himself, the other person and the relationship,  so as to satisfy his desire for knowledge, enrich his own training process and orient the clinical intervention. The “working” psychologist and the “writing” psychologist therefore merge, embodying a role towards the task and the context which, in the words of Freda (2004), is connoted symbolically and affectively; so the drafting of the clinical report, as a subjective construction of meanings, conveys an intentionality that “brings the clinical psychologist up against dimensions of belonging and of projectuality” (Lancia, 1990), which cannot be ignored. Transcribing the clinical material and communicating one’s own experience to others in fact expresses not only a historical-literary reproduction of what has happened, but also a meaningful reconstruction of contents and events according to one’s own personal style; in itself it is therefore an initial form of subjective psychic elaboration of one’s experiences, which presents and translates the external reality in terms of the inner reality. 
Using the multiple meanings mentioned above, the clinical report therefore gives a result that is usually presented by the clinical psychologist to a public that is different from the person who constitutes the other side of the exchange in the clinical relationship (the patient or, if you like, the client) and is only indirectly returned to him, as restitution, often with  this first step. This is a representation by means of signs, translation into words of a lived experience, of confused, impalpable sensorial and mnestic traces which, in taking shape, help what has happened and been acted out by oneself and by the other person to unfold, within the clinical space. It is narration that, according to the purposes and the context, is addressed to whoever is there to accept it.

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Rivista di Psicologia Clinica. Teoria e metodi dell'intervento

Rivista Telematica a Carattere Scientifico Registrazione presso il Tribunale civile di Roma (n.149/2006 del 17/03/2006)

ISSN 1828-9363