Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 225–232 | Cite as

Considerations in Francisco Varela for Psychotherapy of Sense

  • Claudio ZamoranoEmail author
  • Pilar Cuevas
  • Liliana Mera
Original Paper


Under the influence of dialogic and narrative models, relational systemic psychotherapy has shifted its attention towards understanding the relational self, its agency and off-centered nature. In order to substantiate its new clinical positions, it has reached for other disciplines such as philosophy and literature. Francisco Varela’s approach regarding the ontological aporia between the individual and the relationship may provide conceptual foundations to propose a clinical understanding where identity and sense play a key role. By considering intentionality as the engine of everything that’s living, Varela generates a difference between the extensive environment in which individuals unfold, and the singular investiture of significance through which people seek relationships to recognize their identity. A model for a relational psychotherapy of sense is proposed, based in Francisco Varela’s conceptual influences.


Intentionality Sense Relation Identity Siege 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Anderson, H., & Goolishian, H. (1996). El experto es el cliente: la ignorancia como enfoque terapéutico [The expert is the client: Ignorance as a therapeutic approach]. In S. McNamee & K. y Gergen (Eds.), La terapia como construcción social [Therapy as a social construction] (pp. 45–59). Barcelona: Ediciones Paidós.Google Scholar
  2. Bateson, G., & Bateson, M. (1994). El temor de los ángeles [Angels Fear]. Barcelona: Editorial Gedisa.Google Scholar
  3. Bertrando, P., & Toffanetti, D. (2004). Historia de la Terapia Familiar [History of Family Therapy]. Barcelona: Ediciones Paidós.Google Scholar
  4. Boscolo, L., & Bertrando, P. (1998). Terapia sistémica y lenguaje. Del interés por la organización del sistema a la centralidad del lenguaje [Systemic therapy and language. From interest in the organization of the system to the centrality of language]. Sistemas Familiares, 14(2), 53–62.Google Scholar
  5. Carey, M., Walther, S., & Russell, S. (2009). The absent but implicit: A map to support therapeutic enquiry. Family Process, 48, 319–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cecchin, G. (1987). Hipothesizing, circularity, and neutrality revisited: An invitation to curiosity. Family Process, 26, 405–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Derridá, J. (1989). La Escritura y la Diferencia [Writing and Difference]. Barcelona: Anthropos Editorial.Google Scholar
  8. Goolishian, H., & Winderman, L. (1989). Constructivismo, autopoiesis y sistemas determinados por problemas [Constructivism, autopoiesis and systems determined by problems]. Sistemas Familiares, 5(3), 19–29.Google Scholar
  9. Jonas, H. (1968). Biological foundations of individuality. International Philosophical Quarterly, 8, 231–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Maturana, H., & Varela, F. (1984). El árbol del conocimiento [The tree of knowledge]. Santiago de Chile: Editorial Universitaria.Google Scholar
  11. Mendez, C., Coddou, F., & Maturana, H. (1988). The bringing forth of pathology. The Irish Journal of Psychology, 9(1), 144–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Miran-Khan, C. (2001). Theorical beacons: Maturana’s theory in clinical practice. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 22(2), 66–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Pakman, M. (2014). Texturas de la imaginación. Más allá de la ciencia empírica y del giro lingüístico [Textures of the imagination. Beyond empirical science and linguistic shift]. Barcelona: Editorial Gedisa.Google Scholar
  14. Rober, P. (2005). The therapist’s self in dialogical family therapy: Some ideas about not-knowing and the therapist’s inner conversation. Family Process, 44, 477–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Seikkula, J., Laitila, A., & Rober, P. (2012). Making sense of multi-actor dialogues in family therapy and network meetings. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 38(4), 667–687.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Thompson, E. (2004). Life and mind: From autopoiesis to neurophenomenology. A tribute to Francisco Varela. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 3, 381–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Varela, F. (1992) Autopoiesis and a biology of intentionality, In B. McMullin, N. Murphy (Eds.), Autopoiesis & perception (pp. 1–14).Google Scholar
  18. Varela, F. (1996). Ética y acción, [Ethics & Action]. Santiago de Chile: Dolmen Ediciones.Google Scholar
  19. Varela, F. (2000). El Fenómeno de la Vida [The Phenomenon of Life]. Santiago de Chile: Ediciones Dolmen.Google Scholar
  20. Varela, F., & Depraz, N. (2000). At the source of time: Valence and the constitutional dynamics of affect. Ipseity and Alterity. Arob@se: Anelectronicjournal.Google Scholar
  21. Varela, F., Thompson, E., & Rosch, E. (1993). De Cuerpo Presente. Las ciencias cognitivas y la experiencia humana [The embodied mind]. Barcelona: Editorial Gedisa.Google Scholar
  22. Weber, A. (2001). The ‘Surplus of Meaning’. Biosemiotic aspects in Francisco J. Varela’s philosophy of cognition. Cybernetics & Human Knowing, 9(2), 11–29.Google Scholar
  23. Weber, A., & Varela, F. (2002). Life after Kant: Natural purposes and the autopoietic foundations of biological individuality. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 1, 97–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. White, M., & Epston, D. (1993). Medios narrativos para fines terapéuticos [Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends]. Barcelona: Ediciones Paidós.Google Scholar
  25. Winslade, J. (2009). Tracing lines of flight: Implications of the work of Gilles Deleuze for narrative practice. Family Process, 48, 332–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversidad de ChileSantiagoChile
  2. 2.Universidad de ChileSantiagoChile

Personalised recommendations