‘Speaking the Names’ of Family as ‘Speaking a Place’

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Names and naming practices have been the focus of social science research for several years. Our name, as part of our identity, shapes and defines our sense of self. When clients start psychotherapy they first introduce themselves by giving their names. Sometimes they speak the names of their parents and grandparents. This speaking of the collective intergenerational familial names is termed ‘speaking the names’. This article sets out to explore and describe the experience of clients in psychoanalytic therapy of ‘speaking the names’. The methodological approach is phenomenological with a focus on experience as a legitimate unit of investigation. Transcripts of sessions with clients are analysed using thematic analysis. The main exploratory findings are that ‘speaking the names’ is a significant psychological event and it can be understood as (1) ‘speaking one's place’ within the family, (2) ‘speaking the hope’ of the family, (3) ‘speaking its lived meaning’ when the meaning of their name is unknown but appears to be lived unconsciously, and (4) ‘speaking a lost connection’ when the familial names are unknown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-442
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Psychotherapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • Family
  • Intergenerational
  • Names
  • Psychoanalytic Therapy
  • Unconscious

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental Health


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