Fostering Dialogue: Exploring the Therapists’ Discursive Contributions in a Couple Therapy

Abstract

This chapter presents a discursive analysis of a systemic couple therapy, which took place over four sessions with a young, multicultural couple. The analysis aims to illuminate the interactional and discursive processes that underlie therapeutic work from a dialogical perspective. The process of change in this couple therapy could be broadly seen to involve shifts in meaning construction, in positioning and in interaction. More specifically, the analysis highlighted the construction of new relational meanings, a reduction of blamings and the negotiation of more agentic subject positions for the couple through the sessions. The primary therapist was shown to be active in shaping the unfolding conversation, although this activity was skilfully subtle. In brief, the therapist’s discursive agenda could be summed up as serving two main functions: eliciting narrative elaboration and expanding on nondominant narratives. A primary effect his talk had on the unfolding conversation was the expression of feelings, the elaboration of the clients’ narrative, the promotion of relational accounts and an increasing focus on resourcefulness and agency. The usefulness of discursive research for providing family therapists with concepts and tools to study talk-in-interaction is discussed. Moreover, it is argued that discursive analyses can help examine therapy as a joint dialogical achievement, furthering our understanding of the relational and intersubjective processes through which systemic therapy ‘gets done’.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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