Professional non-neutrality: criticising the third party in psychotherapy

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Voutilainen , L , Peräkylä , A & Ruusuvuori , J E 2010 , ' Professional non-neutrality: criticising the third party in psychotherapy ' , Sociology of Health & Illness , vol. 32 , no. 5 , pp. 798-816 .

Title: Professional non-neutrality: criticising the third party in psychotherapy
Author: Voutilainen, Liisa; Peräkylä, Anssi; Ruusuvuori, Johanna Elisabeth
Contributor organization: Sociology
Department of Social Research (2010-2017)
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
Date: 2010
Language: eng
Number of pages: 19
Belongs to series: Sociology of Health & Illness
ISSN: 0141-9889
Abstract: Using audio-recorded data from cognitive-constructivist psychotherapy, the article shows a particular institutional context in which successful professional action does not adhere to the pattern of affective neutrality which Parsons saw as an inherent component of medicine and psychotherapy. In our data, the professional’s non-neutrality functions as a tool for achieving institutional goals. The analysis focuses on the psychotherapist’s actions that convey a critical stance towards a third party with whom the patient has experienced problems. The data analysis revealed two practices of this kind of critique: (1) the therapist can confirm the critique that the patient has expressed or (2) return to the critique from which the patient has focused away. These actions are shown to build grounds for the therapist’s further actions that challenge the patient’s dysfunctional beliefs. The article suggests that in the case of psychotherapy, actions that as such might be seen as apparent lapses from the neutral professional role can in their specific context perform the task of the institution at hand.
Subject: 514 Sociology
psychotherapy, professional neutrality, institutional interaction, conversation analysis
Peer reviewed: Yes
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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