Open Space - December: Fiction and Psychotherapy > Fictioning Psychotherapy

6 December 2021 
To attend, email for the Zoom link

Open Space is an approximately monthly meeting in which Cani-net members share and respond to work in progress or nearing completion. Different people present each month and those present speak and sometimes draw or write in response. The process is intended as helpful for those bringing their work for the group to engage with, as well as being inspiring, connecting and educational for those in attendance.  To attend, email for the Zoom link. If you would like to present your work at a future Open-Space, please email


Sessions run on the first Monday of the month, 5:30pm-7:00pm UK time.



This month, Melissa Dunlop will be facilitating a session entitled: Fiction and Psychotherapy > Fictioning Psychotherapy


"In this session, I will share a few words from, and thoughts about the process of writing my still emergent PhD thesis, on the relationship between 21st century fiction and psychotherapy. The thesis explores how perspectives acquired by reading contemporary auto-fiction and its metamodernist literary critics, considering the ontological possibilities inherent in contemporary art, and playing with the ‘myth-functions’ of story worlds manifested in the process of ‘fictioning’ (Burrows and O’Sullivan 2017), might enrich understanding and expand possibility in the practices of psychotherapy and qualitative inquiry.  By ‘fictioning’ the thesis, I investigate the how the healing functions of re-storying pasts and futures in the therapeutic process can be inherent to the making and re-making of our (well, my) real lives, societies, and worlds as we (okay, I) navigate dramatic shifts in our understanding of what the world is, what reality is, and how we as humans might wish to include ourselves in any future story.


The thesis, a novel of sorts, revolves around the relationship between a psychotherapist and client, who are together seeking to articulate and make sense of certain pressing social and cultural aspects of their lives as they unfold around and in relation to each other, and also in relation to and around London, art galleries, friends, lovers, cats, music, t-shirts, and a provincial city a train ride away to its west... questions preoccupying the protagonists include what a psychotherapist should be doing in this day and age, whether and to what extent choices from the past lead inexorably to the present, how to love, and how to imagine a future.


If there is time, I would like to use this session to explore with the group what happens to narrative inquiry process when we employ frameworks and techniques found in  21st century ‘novels’ or more specifically, the novel-adjacent literary-fictional form known as ‘auto-fiction’. This may be for (an imagined) future session. There will certainly be time to write as you will, in response to the material shared.


And remember, “Every world is a coded holistic system”. That is all."




Melissa Dunlop maintains that she is in her final year of her PhD at the Centre for Creative-Relational Inquiry at University of Edinburgh, and is a practicing psychotherapist online.