Department of Family Therapy Dissertations and Applied Clinical Projects

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Family Therapy


Martha G. Marquez

Committee Member

Douglas G. Flemons

Committee Member

Tommie V. Boyd


Dialogue is a conversation situated in a view of existence as relational (Bakhtin, 1981; Buber, 1970). As a result, it evokes love—love as the constant companion to human experience that allows for collaboration, co-existence, and evolution (Maturana & Verden-Zöller, 2008). Dialogue, and its potential to generate love, offers persons the ability to understand how love can be activated within relationships and in daily encounters as a result of dialogical engagement. It also holds implications for the field of family therapy, including the nature and purpose of therapy, as well as training and practice. In order to understand how love and dialogue evoke one another, each was explored as a concept. Dialogism, the foundational philosophy of dialogue as articulated by its principle contributors, Mikhail Bakhtin (1981) and Martin Buber (1970), provides a relational, ontological context for dialogue as a conversation. Love, as an experience of shared humanity—as a “bumping into” humanity’s “collective consciousness” (Gumbrecht, Maturana, & Poerksen, 2006), initiates, fuels, and emerges within dialogue. Love and dialogue are foundational to human existence and therefore cannot be separated. This recognition results in an acceptance of love-as-dialogue. Love-as- dialogue presents individuals with a way of living that orients them toward engagement. It also invites family therapists into a conversation about therapy as a meeting of human beings and therefore as being situated in love.