Conversation Analysis and Psychotherapeutic Change

  • Liisa Voutilainen
  • Federico Rossano
  • Anssi Peräkylä


Psychotherapy is geared to facilitate change. Many types of psychotherapy aim to increase the clients’ contact with their problematic experiences that have been previously vaguely known or avoided. The chapter discusses how conversation analysis (CA) can be used to describe such psychotherapeutic process. Based on the authors’ research on cognitive therapy, systemic therapy and psychoanalysis, it is shown that implicit and explicit orientation to longitudinal development of themes that are worked within the therapy relates to sequential contexts in which they are discussed; the process in which the content of a problematic experience becomes more salient in the interaction unfolds in changing relations between the participants’ actions. The chapter introduces the notion of a ‘focal sequence’ as a point of departure for the investigation of such processes.


Psychotherapeutic Change Sequential Focus Sequence Context Utive Positions patientPatient 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liisa Voutilainen
    • 1
  • Federico Rossano
    • 2
  • Anssi Peräkylä
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.University of California-San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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