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Embodied mutual meaning unfolding through time as substrate of clinical complexity

Dr Stephen Malloch

The aims and objectives of this paper are to demonstrate the underlying ‘musical thematic’ structure of embodied meaning between psychotherapist and patient and to discuss how this gives insight into the interpersonal dynamics of psychotherapeutic healing. The model of Communicative Musicality (Malloch, 1999; Malloch & Trevarthen, 2009), like that of the Conversational Model (Meares, 2004), has its origins in the investigation of mutuality in the infant-caregiver relationship. We observe in this relationship an exquisite mutually regulated interchange of embodied narratives of affect which enable caregiver and infant to spend meaningful time together. 

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Stephen Malloch
Stephen Malloch
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Dr Stephen Malloch

Stephen Malloch gained his doctorate in music and psychoacoustics from the University of Edinburgh. This was followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh working with Prof Colwyn Trevarthen, and then an ongoing position as Research Fellow at The MARCS Institute, Department of Psychology, University of Western Sydney. In the late 2000s he moved into private practice as a counsellor and executive coach, with a particular interest in the application of mindfulness and meditation in communication and decision making. Stephen maintains his interest in research psychology through a research position in the Westmead Psychotherapy Program, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney. His research interests focus on the ‘communicative musicality’ of human interactions - how we shape interpersonal time expressively and communicatively using purposeful gestural narratives of voice and body. His research began in parent-infant communication, moved to investigating the qualities and effectiveness of music therapy, especially with hospitalised infants, and now focusses on the musicality of conversations between psychotherapist and client as expressions of self. Stephen is passionate about understanding and facilitating human interactions that encourage healing and well-being. He aims to combine academic research and theory building with real-world practice and education in a way that helps both himself and others to live with greater peace, companionship and vitality.

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