Shari J. Couture

Moving Forward: Therapy with an Adolescent and his Family

by Shari J. Couture, M. Sc.

University of Calgary, Division of Applied Psychology, Alberta, Canada
January, 2005

Studies of actual conversational behaviours used to generate positive change in family therapy are relatively rare. In this study, the researcher examined such conversational details as they occurred in a single session of family therapy. From passages identified by the family members as helpful, I used discursive methods of analysis to examine an actual conversation between a renowned family therapist (Dr. Karl Tomm) and a family formerly at the conversational impasse. The analyses showed the therapist and family members’ use of particular conversational practices from those sustaining an initial differend, through those used in trying to develop more promising lines of talk, to those which ultimately show the family and therapist initiating talk form a shared position. The researcher concludes these analyses with an integration of the conversational practices and sequences in talk used by the therapist and family members to bridge differences in their ways of conversing and relating. Family members’ retrospective comments regarding their participation in the conversation analysed were also incorporated into the analyses. Implications for the practices of family therapy, and for further research of therapeutic conversations, are derived from the analyses.