Mirror time psychological constructivism therapy helps a person to empower him/herself by using a mirror to reflect reassuring and empowering words when spoken and listened to by the individual. The use of words to ingrain thoughts has long been understood by Kuhn (2000) as representing a process of subtle power that influences imaginary exchanges. Just before Kuhn died in 1996, he wrote about his language as being the way to influence cognitive and behavioural changes in the worlds of humans. Psychological constructivism is a clinical 'world' that supports the human ability to utilise language for cognitive and behavioural change.
In his book, Human Change Processes, psychological constructivist Mahoney (1991) describes his discovery of mirror work as being initiated by Adam who presented with depression, bulimia and personality disorder. Whenever Adam looked in the mirror his reflection told him that he looked a lot better than how he felt. How this contrasted with his understandings about his ‘reality’ led Adam into an awareness that, with the therapeutic help of mirror therapy, eventually led him to greater self-awareness and clarity.
The Label Feedback Hypothesis of Lupyan (2007) suggests that verbal labels can change individual perceptual processing where phonetic repetition of a word supports verbal labeling. Lupyan says that hearing yourself rote repeating a word like “chair”, compared to simply thinking about a chair, promotes the visual system as a better “chair detector”. What this means is that talking to yourself when learning to classify an object furthers your ability to remember the object, both visually and linguistically. In terms of mirror therapy, words that are spoken instead of simply thought about, help to promote classification stability in an experiential way. Hearing yourself saying something out loud puts a label on it and helps to facilitate a clearer way of identifying objects.
Psychologist Linda Sapadin says that talking to yourself is a sign of sanity in an otherwise “insane” world. She suggests that talking with yourself helps to ease feelings of loneliness, clarify your thoughts and firm up any decisions you might be pondering over. However, for the self-talk to be productive, it must be directed at your best friend who is you and deserving of your utmost respect. Linda says the self-talk, that could make you feel better about yourself, should be full of self-compliments, be motivating and be about decision making and goal setting.
In an Age where being seen seemingly talking to yourself with a mobile phone pinned to your ear, reflecting using mirror therapy presents as a reasonable option if seeking a way out of emotional anguish. Talking to yourself in the mirror also seems to offer a respectable way of gaining more confidence. However, should Lupyan’s (2007) verbal labeling hypothesis be correct, neuroscientist Greenfield (2014) words about how digital technologies change our brains, might be the one to watch.
© Chris Tyne 16/09/2017
McLeod, J, 2013, An Introduction to Counselling, 5th Ed, Open University Press.
Mahoney, MJ., 1991, Human Change Processes: the scientific foundations of psychotherapy, Basic Books.
Kuhn, TS., 2000, The Road Since Structure, Philosophical Essays, 1970-1993, University of Chicago Press.
Greenfield, S., 2014, Mind Change, how digital technologies are leaving their mark on our brains, Penguin, Random House UK.