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Mothertongue: Psychotherapy across Languages: beliefs, attitudes and practices of monolingual and multilingual therapists with their multilingual patients

The study investigates beliefs, attitudes and practices of 101 monolingual and multilingual therapists in their interactions with multilingual patients. Mothertongue adopted a mixed-method approach, using an on-line questionnaire with 27 closed questions which were analysed quantitatively and informed questions in interviews with one monolingual and two multilingual therapists. A principal component analysis yielded a four-factor solution accounting for 41% of the variance. The first dimension, which explained 17% of variance, reflects therapists’ attunement towards their bilingual patients (i.e. attunement versus collusion). Further analysis showed that the 18 monolingual therapists differed significantly from their 83 bi- or multilingual peers on this dimension. The follow up interviews confirmed this result. Recommendations based on these findings are made for psychotherapy training and supervision to attend to a range of issues including: the psychological and therapeutic functions of multi/bilingualism; practice in making formulations in different languages; the creative therapeutic potential of the language gap.