Conference Theme: Therapeutic Change
Psychotherapy, arguably, is a type of social interaction in which participants adopt a longitudinal perspective. For therapists and clients alike, the raison d’être of psychotherapy is to work together towards a better life of the patient. This can mean solving psychological problems, overcoming unwanted symptoms, coping with life events, enhancing client’s resources to deal with personality disorders, etc. In all of these cases, change to the better will be the criterion for therapeutic success. Psychotherapy research so far has tried to verify change by way of outcome measures, mostly questionnaires. However, both therapists and clients orient to the psychotherapeutic process itself as an arena in which change becomes manifest in various ways. Changes in the therapeutic relationship, in clients‘ storylines, in their emotional responses, the ways in which they display resistance and many other discursive phenomena provide for endogenous metrics of therapeutic change, which are perceived, discussed and evaluated by the parties. Moreover, therapists will be interested in which ways specific strategies of therapeutic work further or rather inhibit change in the client.
With its microanalytic focus on observable verbal and embodied action and with its temporal perspective on unfolding therapeutic interactions, Conversation Analysis is ideally equipped to uncover therapeutic change and the effect of therapeutic work, as they become manifest in transformative sequences (Peräkylä 2019). In contrast to most other work in CA, however, the perspective on change requires to go beyond individual sequences of interaction and to consider cross-sequential and cross-event relationships between moments of psychotherapeutic sessions.
ICCAP24 will zoom in on how therapeutic change manifests itself in therapeutic interaction and how the interactional work by both therapists and patients makes change possible. The conference invites contributions dealing with different aspects of therapeutic change from a conversation analytic perspective. Among others, relevant topics include:
- Conversation-analytic criteria for identifying change
- Longitudinal developments in psychotherapy indexing and leading to change
- Therapists‘ discursive strategies enabling and supporting change in the client
- Changes in interactional patterns in the therapy
- Changes in client’s displays of affect
- Changes in client’s self-interpretation (e.g., ascription of agency, illness theories)
The conference invites contributions from all researchers pursuing a conversation-analytic approach working on psychotherapy and related kinds of interaction (such as counselling and coaching). Contributions relating to the conference theme are particularly welcome, but talks may also deal with other matters in the field of Conversation Analysis and psychotherapy.
The conference is funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation).