The mutual development of intersubjectivity and metacognitive capacity in the psychotherapy for persons with schizophrenia

Paul H. Lysaker, Kelly D. Buck, Rebecca L. Fogley, Jamie Ringer, Susanne Harder, Ilanit Hasson-Ohayon, Kyle Olesek, Megan L.A. Grant, Giancarlo Dimaggio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


While cognitive behavioral approaches have been shown to help some individuals with schizophrenia, these approaches may be limited when working with patients with impairments in the metacognitive abilities required to form complex and integrated representations of themselves and others. In response, this paper explores the possibility that a key to working with patients with relatively impaired self-reflectivity lies in explicitly focusing on a patient's intersubjective experience within psychotherapy. We offer theoretical and empirical support for the assertion that the tolerance and capacity for intersubjectivity is a basis for the development of self-reflectivity in general. We also explore how the fostering of intersubjective processes in psychotherapy might enable some patients to form more complex ideas about themselves and so better ward off delusions in the face of the challenges of daily life. To illustrate these principles we present the case of a patient with tenaciously held delusions and limited capacity for self-reflection. We discuss when and how the therapist's awareness and verbalization of intersubjective processes within session allowed her and the patient to develop more complex and consensually valid ideas about him as a being in the world, which then assisted the patient to achieve improvements in a number of domains in his life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-72
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Contemporary Psychotherapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Delusions
  • Intersubjectivity
  • Metacognition
  • Narrative
  • Psychotherapy
  • Recovery
  • Schizophrenia


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