chapter  10
12 Pages

A Chocolate Santa

Imaging the liminal moment with reverie in research
WithLynn McVey

Reverie – one’s capacity to contain another’s emotional state, expressed in the ephemeral contents of our stream of experiencing – is a profoundly liminal phenomenon, existing on the threshold between conscious and non-conscious experience, and between one person and another. When attended to, it offers rich empathic data that can elucidate and deepen the therapeutic relationship and detoxify the client’s painful emotions. This chapter considers how reverie can be used to extend horizons beyond therapy to research, by focusing in detail on a liminal moment that arose during a qualitative interview in a psychotherapeutic study. In that moment vivid images, memories and feelings from the past were experienced by both researcher and participant, infusing the research relationship with warmth and colour, and opening up a bright space for exploration and discovery. The chapter concludes by examining the role that reverie may play in imaging/imagining that which exists in the liminal space between two people and the implications for reflexive qualitative research, especially in counselling and psychotherapy.