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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton January 1, 2012

"No stories, no self": Co-constructing personal narratives in the psychotherapy session

Joanna Pawelczyk


Psychotherapy constitutes one of the contexts in which narrating one's personal experience is highly encouraged and expected. By telling their life stories, clients are able to organize their "autobiographical self" as well as voice the aspects of their experience that need therapeutic intervention in order for the client to live a more fulfilling life. Informed by insights and methods of conversation analysis and discourse analysis, this paper discusses narrative as a practice situated within social interaction. The study examines how clients' personal narratives in psychotherapy sessions emerge as co-constructed interactional accomplishments, focusing on the active role of the psychotherapist in facilitating clients' troubles-telling. The functions of the therapist's interventions will be scrutinized in terms of their interactional and sequential import as well as corrective functions. The analysis presented in this study is based on two psychotherapy sessions conducted by the same psychotherapist working within the theoretical framework of Relationship-Focused Integrative Psychotherapy.

Received: 2011-11-01
Revised: 2011-12-20
Accepted: 2011-12-23
Published Online: 2012
Published in Print: 2012

© School of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland, 2012