The Discourse of Therapeutic Conversations

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1978, Vol 23(10), 711–712. Reviews the book, Therapeutic Discourse: Psychotherapy as Conversation by William Labov and David Fanshel (1977). One purpose of this book is to represent a union of theory and practice for those who are involved in training in therapeutic work. The authors claim that much of what is earned out as training in this field is aimed at highlevel abstraction and overlooks the important details of controversial interaction. For the therapist, therefore, this book offers an approach for better understanding what happens in therapy and for obtaining better techniques in carrying it out. For the linguist, the book offers a number of useful insights into ways of analyzing conversation It is the strength of the work that it stands, Janus-like, looking both directions at the same time. It is noted that in the therapy session being analyzed, direct requests are in the minority Indirect requests are, by far, more common. The authors also deal with the role of mitigation and aggravation in requesting, putting off requests, relayed requests, requests for information, embedded requests, and reinstating requests. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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