Communication & Medicine, Vol 9, No 3 (2012)

Negotiating behavioural change: Therapists’ proposal turns in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Katie Ekberg, Amanda Lecouteur
Issued Date: 17 Sep 2013


Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an internationally recognised method for treating depression. However, many of the techniques involved in CBT are accomplished within the therapy interaction in diverse ways, and with varying consequences for the trajectory of therapy session. This paper uses conversation analysis to examine some standard ways in which therapists propose suggestions for behavioural change to clients attending CBT sessions for depression in Australia. Therapists’ proposal turns displayed their subordinate epistemic authority over the matter at hand, and emphasised a high degree of optionality on behalf of the client in accepting their suggestions. This practice was routinely accomplished via three standard proposal turns: (1) hedged recommendations; (2) interrogatives; and (3) information-giving. These proposal turns will be examined in relation to the negotiation of behavioural change, and the implications for CBT interactions between therapist and client will be discussed.

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.v9i3.229


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