Blurring the threat of 'otherness': Integration by conversion in psychoanalysis and CBT

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This article deals with integration by conversion, a hitherto unresearched phenomenon in psychotherapy. I will argue that breakthroughs in theory and technique sometimes occur when practitioners of a particular psychotherapy are influenced by a concept in use outside of their own field and which is supported by a worldview that differs from theirs. The clash between an existing established therapeutic school and a new "foreign" theoretical or technical component presents a special challenge. The newly imported concept undergoes a process of conversion that involves the 'discovery' of its roots in the incorporating theory so that it can be presented as an integral part of that theory. The article illustrates integration by conversion through 2 major developments in the history of 2 separate psychotherapeutic schools: the introduction of the concept of 'empathy' into psychoanalysis in the 1970s and the incorporation of 'mindfulness' into cognitive-behavioral theory (MBCT) in the 2000s.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-90
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Psychotherapy Integration
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Psychological Association.


  • Empathy
  • Integration
  • MBCT
  • Mindfulness
  • Self-psychology


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