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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Peer responses to self-disclosures in group counseling

Aija Logren / Johanna Ruusuvuori / Jaana Laitinen
Published Online: 2019-08-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2019-2042


Drawing on conversation analysis, this study examines how peers respond to each other’s self-disclosures in group counseling interaction. Responses that display sharing and recognition of the experience normalize the experience and build an alliance among group members. This way, responses bring about social support. In addition, responses can offer a different perspective on the views presented in self-disclosures. The responses endorse or challenge the claims that are made and the stance taken in the initial self-disclosure, and link the personal, individual experience to general axioms. The implicit ways of responding to a self-disclosure allow a person to participate in a conversation about intimate and potentially delicate topics without revealing private details. Through self-disclosures and responses to them, participants talk into being the ideals of health counseling and healthy lifestyle: What kind of activities are considered eligible and attainable. The relation of these practices to the institutional goal is intricate. It builds on, first, the stance taken in the self-disclosure toward the institutional goal and the sociocultural values pertaining to it, and second, the responses’ alignment with that stance and what kind of values and ideals it further evokes.

Keywords: conversation analysis; group counseling; self-disclosure; social interaction; social support; stance


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About the article

Aija Logren

Aija Logren received her master’s degree in social psychology from the Tampere University and is currently a doctoral researcher. Her research interests include social interaction in group counseling: How groups work and through what kind of practices groups may have influence on their members. She has published on group members’ questions and self-reflective talk in group counseling. Address for correspondence: Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University, 33100 Tampere, Finland.

Johanna Ruusuvuori

Johanna Ruusuvuori is Professor of Social Psychology at the Tampere University. Her research interests include social interaction in institutional settings, such as healthcare, working life, and lifestyle counseling, work-life participation, and emotion in interaction. She has published in journals such as Research on Language and Social Interaction, Social Psychology Quarterly, Journal of Pragmatics, and Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, on practices equivalent or close to counseling, empathy and participation in healthcare consultations. Address for correspondence: Faculty of Social Sciences, 33014 Tampere University, Finland.

Jaana Laitinen

Jaana Laitinen is an Adjunct Professor in Nutrition and in Public Health at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. She specializes in intervention studies aiming to promote healthy lifestyles and work ability. Additionally, she has examined the development of unhealthy behaviors in an epidemiological prospective study of Northern Finland 1966 and 1986 cohorts.

Published Online: 2019-08-03

Citation Information: Text & Talk, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2019-2042.

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