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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton July 1, 2020

Counsellors’ interactional practices for facilitating group members’ affiliative talk about personal experiences in group counselling

Elina Weiste, Sanni Tiitinen, Sanna Vehviläinen, Johanna Ruusuvuori and Jaana Laitinen
From the journal Text & Talk


Affiliative talk about personal experiences, that is, talk that supports the person’s affective stance towards the experience, is important in all types of counselling. Often, however, this is not the only or even the main goal of the counselling. We investigate what interactional practices counsellors use to facilitate group members’ affiliative talk about their personal experiences in a problem focused, health promotion group counselling. The findings are based on a conversation analysis of 23 video-recorded group counselling sessions. We present four interactional practices by counsellors for facilitating participants’ talk about their personal experiences in relation to other group members’ experiences. We demonstrate that each interactional practice sets up a different space for telling about one’s experiences in an affiliative way. Loosely designed questions about group members’ thoughts at the end of an assignment seem to engender stretches of affiliative talk about personal experiences very efficiently. We suggest that even if the counselling is focused on solving group members’ problems, it should include time for loosely structured discussions among group members to support affiliative talk.

Funding statement: This work was supported by the European Union Social Fund [grant number S20172] and the Strategic Research Council (SRC) at the Academy of Finland [grant numbers 303430, 303432].


Transcription symbols

[ ]Overlapping talk
(.)A pause of less than 0.2 seconds
(0.0)Pause: silence measured in seconds and tenths of a second
WORDTalk louder volume than the surrounding talk
wordAccented sound or syllable
.hhAn in breath
hhAn out breath
£word£Spoken in a smiley voice
@word@Spoken in an animated voice
#word#Spoken in a creaky voice
wo(h)rdLaugh particle inserted within a word
((word))Transcriber’s comments
-Abrupt cut-off of preceding sound
>word<Talk faster than the surrounding talk
<word>Talk slower than the surrounding talk
Rise in pitch
?Final rising intonation
,Final level intonation
.Final falling intonation


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In all extracts, C1 and C2 refer to the counsellors, and other identifiers use the first letter of the group members’ pseudonym. The first line presents the talk in Finnish and the second line an idiomatic translation in English. To present a detailed CA-analysis of turn-taking would require a morpheme-by-morpheme translation. However, our analysis does not address turn-taking in such detail. Transcription symbols are presented in the Appendix.

Published Online: 2020-07-01
Published in Print: 2020-07-26

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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