Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Reconciling the digital subject in psychotherapy

Neely, Mason 2022. Reconciling the digital subject in psychotherapy. PhD Thesis, Cardiff Univeristy.
Item availability restricted.

[thumbnail of 1740860 Final Submission.pdf]
PDF - Accepted Post-Print Version
Download (4MB) | Preview
[thumbnail of Cardiff University Electronic Publication Form] PDF (Cardiff University Electronic Publication Form) - Supplemental Material
Restricted to Repository staff only

Download (128kB)


Digital culture, online communication technologies and social networking sites are actively changing the ‘subject’ of psychotherapy. This research analyses data generated from real-life psychotherapy sessions to examine phenomena associated with social media emerging within the therapeutic discourse and to situate the reported online entanglements of clients within broader networks of culture, capital and social practice. While psychotherapeutic and sociological research has historically focused on the relationship between the use of online platforms and specific behavioural or psychic responses, what is underdeveloped is a more holistic understanding of how mediated communication technologies produce affects within the ‘psychotherapy-assemblage’. Informed by the work of Deleuze and Guattari (1972), ‘assemblage’ refers to the multiplicity of materials, devices, discourses, algorithms, emotions, and relations which comprise the social networks of therapy clients. Utilising the therapy encounter as a ‘site’ of sociological inquiry, data collection was longitudinal and consisted of field notes and audio recordings of psychotherapy sessions with ten clients recruited from my private practice. The resulting data was used to form narrative case studies and a 'rhizomatic' discourse analysis guided by Deleuzoguattarian thought. Analysis centres around three social media platforms - Instagram, Tinder and Facebook - each of which are shown to produce a range of complications and possibilities in the self-formation of clients. I explore how the design of online technologies holds implications for clients’ sense of self-worth, reinforces hegemonic notions of gender and entrenches heterosexist sexual discourses. Mediated technologies are demonstrated to have the potential to produce new relational networks, liberatory forms of self-expression and sources of emotional support between users. I conclude by reflecting on the need for the field of psychotherapy to be more inclusive of discourses around the digital ‘lives’ of clients and more attuned to how online technologies produce new modes of social exchange and subjectification.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 December 2022
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2022 12:22

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics