Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 September 2009
Psychotherapy is an ensemble of techniques the benefit of which is measured by their usefulness to cure or relieve mental disorders and diseases. Psychotherapeutic knowledge is predominantly knowledge of change. The aim of conversation analysis (CA) in psychotherapy is to analyse and document the means and strategies used by patients and therapists to produce talk in interaction happening in the treatment room. In explicating these means and strategies, CA is not primarily concerned whether the treatment is useful at that moment or not, with whether the therapist is acting competently or negligently, or with whether or not the participants perceive the present interaction as therapy at all. Instead, from a conversation analytic perspective the “How” of the present interaction and the interactive production of what is going on between patient and psychotherapist in every moment is in the foreground independent of the kind and quality of the actual events in the treatment room.
In psychotherapeutic theory there is some disagreement regarding the importance of interactive events between patient and therapist. From the very beginning of psychoanalysis, interaction between patient and psychoanalyst has been overshadowed by the suspicion of suggestion (Thomä & Kächele, 1994). For this reason, Freud wanted to create an arrangement that was meant to ensure that the psychoanalytic treatment is nothing else but an “exchange of words” (Freud, 1916/17).
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