Reflexive Questions as Constructive Interventions: A Discursive Perspective

  • Joaquín GaeteEmail author
  • Olga Smoliak
  • Shari Couture
Part of the The Language of Mental Health book series (TLMH)


This chapter aims to promote dialogue between discursively-oriented researchers and therapists, by exploring reflexive questions as a specific discursive therapy practice that can be used to co-construct preferred understandings of clients’ relationships, identities, experiences, and actions. From a discursive psychology approach, we suggest that the constructive potential of reflexive questions rests in triggering and accomplishing preferred (acceptable and helpful) formulations of such self-understandings. In our view, this type of preferred attribution work is therapeutic in that it conversationally accomplishes client-preferred meanings and fosters clients’ autonomy and capacity to generate change on their own. In order to empirically demonstrate these therapeutic effects, we use a discursive psychological approach to analyze exemplars of reflexive questions. Based on our suggestion that understanding therapy outcomes and client’s agency can be seen as situated conversational accomplishment, we end discussing some methodological, theoretical and ethical implications for therapy research and practice.



Work on this chapter was supported by funding received from CONICYT, Fondecyt Program No. 11150198.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad Adolfo IbáñezViña del MarChile
  2. 2.Department of Family Relations and Applied NutritionUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  3. 3.CalgaryCanada

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