Elizabeth Usher Memorial Lecture: Placing therapy in the context of the self and social connection Academic Article uri icon


  • The concept of self influences the choice of goals and helps to make sense of lives. Essentially, self-concept is a dynamic internal representation of the individual. This representation shapes behaviour and how information about oneself is processed. The self-story is developed and validated through social interactions and shaped continuously through life experiences.The focus of this paper is the client's perspective of self and how one can actively use that perspective to plan therapy, particularly in the case of individuals with acquired brain injury (ABI). The paper draws upon the results of a number of research projects constructed around two primary aims: (1) to represent the perspectives of clients and their close others and (2) to maximize social connection through the delivery of effective communication intervention.A model of self, derived from in-depth qualitative exploration of the experiences of people with ABI, is presented as a framework to guide collaborative therapy. The model depicts the multidimensional and cyclical nature of self- conceptualization supported by factors that facilitate social connection.Communication is crucial to maintaining social ties and communication breakdown is a significant predictor of participation. A new intervention that effectively improves coping with communication breakdown is presented.

publication date

  • 2015