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Conference Information

Full Title: The Pragmatics of Change in Therapy and Related Formats

Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Start Date: 16-Jul-2017 - 21-Jul-2017
Contact: Eva-Maria Graf
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting Description: The Pragmatics of Change in Therapy and Related Formats

Eva-Maria Graf, Claudio Scarvaglieri, Thomas Spranz-Fogasy

Numerous studies have identified recurrent discursive and interactional practices in psychotherapy (Peräkylä et al. 2008; Pawelczyk 2011, Scarvaglieri 2013) and related formats like coaching (Graf 2015) or counseling (Muntigl 2004; Hutchby 2007). The primary focus was on reconstructing specific “trajectories” of interaction (Vehviläinen 2003; Peräkylä 2004) and on understanding potential difficulties that emerge in the investigated interaction formats (Streeck 2004, MacMartin 2008).

More recently, research focus has turned towards relating interactional processes of psychotherapy to their institutional purpose, i.e. clients’ need for change (Pawelczyk & Graf forthc.). Since “change of some sort is the motivation for all psychotherapies” (Peräkylä 2013: ch. 6), this shift has the potential to draw attention to discursive aspects that are of vital importance for process and outcome of psychotherapy (Voutilainen et al. 2011). Concurrently, such findings contribute to discussions in clinical psychology on factors that support change, on ways in which change manifests itself, and on conceptual aspects of change (e.g. Streeck 2008; Lambert (ed.) 2013). Yet, change is not only a motivating factor for psychotherapy, but also for related discourse formats, especially coaching and physician-patient interaction. Discourse-based process-research in these formats has however only started to address issues of change (e.g. Graf & Pawelczyk 2014; Busch & Spranz-Fogasy 2015).

Investigating the pragmatics of change within and across various helping formats addresses crucial interactional processes and allows for deeper insights into differences and commonalities of helping professions (Graf et al. 2014), particularly in the context of their raison d’ ȇtre, i.e. change. To do so, the panel aims to address conceptual and empirical questions particularly, but not exclusively, in the context of dimension of change, object of change and interactional format of change:

- Regarding the various dimensions of change, change is understood as transformed ways of talking (Voutilainen et al. 2011) from a purely language based perspective, as differences in the way clients act and deal from an action-theoretical perspective (Scarvaglieri 2013) and as differences in the way clients think and react from a mental(istic) perspective.
- Regarding the object of change, most work restricts change to the client. Yet there are studies (Buchholz 2003) that locate it in the relationship between client and the professional that undergoes change in successful helping professional interaction. As such, the idea of change in therapist, coach, doctor etc., i.e. in the way these professionals deal with clients, understand and react towards them, needs to be examined as well (cf. Crichton 2015).
- Regarding the interactional formats that contribute to change (Ribeiro et al. 2013), questions center on: Where in the interaction does change start (Scarvaglieri 2015)? How can interactional formats that serve as starting points for change be identified and characterized? Which actions and interaction formats pursue processes of change and how are they co-constructed by professional and client? And more generally: How is change manifested in interaction? How can change be traced linguistically?
Linguistic Subfield: Applied Linguistics; Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics
LL Issue: 27.2754

This is a session of the following meeting:
15th International Pragmatics Conference

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