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Journal Article

Different place, different action: Clients' personal narratives in psychotherapy


Rossano,  Federico
Language and Cognition Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Bercelli, F., Rossano, F., & Viaro, M. (2008). Different place, different action: Clients' personal narratives in psychotherapy. Text and Talk, 28(3), 283-305. doi:10.1515/TEXT.2008.014.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-395E-5
This paper deals with clients' personal narratives in psychotherapy. Using the method of conversation analysis, we focus on actions and tasks accomplished through clients' narratives. We identify, within the overall structural organization of therapeutic talk in our corpus, two different sequential placements of clients' narratives and describe some of their distinctive features. When they are placed within an inquiry phase of the session and are solicited by therapists' questions, the clients' narratives mainly provide information for therapists in the service of their inquiring agenda. When placed within an elaboration phase of the session, personal narratives are regularly volunteered by clients and produced as responses to therapists' reinterpretations, i.e., statements working up clients' circumstances as previously described by clients. In this latter placement, they mainly offer further evidence relevant to the therapists' reinterpretations, and thus show how clients understand therapists' reinterpretations and what they make of them. The import of these findings, for both an explication of therapeutic techniques and a better understanding of the therapeutic process, is also discussed.