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Interpersonal perceptions and metaperceptions: psychotherapeutic practice in the inter-experiential realm

Cooper, Mick (2009) Interpersonal perceptions and metaperceptions: psychotherapeutic practice in the inter-experiential realm. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 49 (1). pp. 85-99. ISSN 0022-1678

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Abstract

This article aims to systematize and develop humanistic practice by considering the implications of adopting an experiential stance to working within the "interexperiential" realm: the interface between one person's experiences and those of another. Psychological theory and research are used to develop an understanding of how people perceive, and misperceive, others' experiences, and implications for practice are discussed, particularly the need to encourage clients to test out their assumptions about others' experiences and to communicate more transparently their own. The article then focuses on the issue of "metaperceptions"- how one person perceives another person as perceiving him or her and his or her experiences-and again argues that people often make significant errors in their judgments. Implications for practice are discussed, with a particular emphasis on using appropriate self-disclosure to deliberately challenge clients' metaperceptual errors. In the conclusion, the proposed interexperiential practices are presented as specific process-experiential tasks.