Sharing one's experiences is a crucial activity in group therapies. In such therapies, groups can be either constituted around one problem or goal common to all the clients, or the group can work as a place in which clients can learn from one another and share experiences whether their individual problems are similar or not. Almost all (psycho) therapy types have a group application, and groups are assumed to be rather efficient in psychological progressing (see, e.g. Corey, 1986; Wootton, 1977).
In this article I will concentrate on one type of group therapy, namely the Minnesota model group therapy for addicts, and examine how the clients share experiences and, especially, how they construct their experiences as typical or identifiable. First, I will briefly introduce the ideology, therapeutic goal, and practices of Minnesota model group therapy. Then I will show that the dynamics of talking in a group seem to direct the participants to orient towards each others' stories as a template in which to fit their own experiences. The core of this article is a detailed analysis of how therapists use variation of person reference terms as a linguistic device to construct the experiences of the participants as typical of addicts.
The therapeutic goal of identifying with each other
The theory of Minnesota model therapy, also called 12-step treatment, is based on the ideology of Alcoholics Anonymous (see, e.g., Mäkelä et al., 1996, pp. 194–196).