Department of General… Research Research areas

Linguistic manifestation of resistance in psychodynamic psychotherapy


Language is the central therapeutic agent in psychotherapy. Central psychodynamic phenomena such as transference, counter-transference, defense mechanisms and resistance as well as psychotherapeutic interventions show up in the patient`s and therapist`s linguistic actions, and can be described in linguistic-conversation-analytic terms.

In our interdisciplinary research project, we investigate a central concept of psychodynamic psychotherapy, namely patients` resistance in psychotherapy sessions und their relevance for the treatment process, using linguistic methods of conversation analysis and psychological methods of psychotherapy (process) research.

On behalf of video sequences and transcripts of outpatient psychotherapy sessions resistance phenomena are identified including previous turns subsequent therapeutic reactions following the principles of sequentiality. On this base, a category system of resistance phenomena and types of therapeutic interventions will be developed. The category system in turn will serve as a base for the development of a rating-instrument for the quantitative assessment of resistance phenomena and associated therapeutic intervention types. The longitudinal development of resistance in the course of outpatient psychotherapy treatment will be investigated using a qualitative conversation-analytic approach as well as a quantitative approach to look for associations with patient-, therapist- and process-characteristics.  In theoretic terms, the aim is to develop a linguistic conversation-analytic based concept of resistance phenomena and resistance-related psychotherapeutic intervention types for psychodynamic psychotherapy. Implications of the results for practice and training in psychodynamic psychotherapy will be discussed.


Project management

Working group: Dr. phil. Dipl.-Psych. Inka Montan, Prof. (apl.) Dr. med. Christoph Nikendei, MME, PD Dr. rer. nat. Ulrike Dinger-Ehrenthal

Co-operation partners: Prof. Dr. phil. Arnulf Deppermann, Prof. (apl.) Dr. phil. Thomas Spranz-Fogasy, Leibniz-Institut für Deutsche Sprache (Mannheim)

Duration: 04/2021 – 03/2024

Funded by: