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    ‘Doing family therapy’; a Foucauldian discourse analysis

    Moore, L. and Seu, Irene Bruna (2010) ‘Doing family therapy’; a Foucauldian discourse analysis. European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling 12 (4), pp. 323-343. ISSN 1364-2537.

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    This paper draws on a study that asked twenty family users about their first session of family therapy. Analyses of the interviews indicated that families entered therapy with a pre-existent knowledge about therapy, which did not always chime with those of professionals and which positioned speakers in ways which governed their expectations and perceptions of therapy. This paper, therefore, is concerned with the acquisition and deployment of knowledge: specifically, the knowledge involved in being a user of family therapy. Three key discourses were identified through this analysis: medical, counselling and consumerist. We aim to illustrate how these discourses served as a resource for members of the family in constructing therapists, therapy and themselves in relation to their experience. The examination of the rhetorical, ideological and practical effects of the positions chosen and the objects constructed, in terms of how speakers wanted to present themselves, with what enhanced or diminished status as patients, shows users actively engaging with the power of therapeutic institutions. Users’ accounts suggest that while most speakers felt anxious about the prospect of therapy, there were clear differences in overall satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the experience according to the synchrony between speakers’ construction of the therapist, and themselves as client/patients. Those who seemed to take a traditional view of therapy within a medical discourse valued therapists who offered diagnosis and a cure; those who sought and experienced a counselling relationship with the therapist found their experience to be constructive in terms of enhanced self-knowledge. We believe that the research findings discussed in this paper have implications for family therapists in accommodating to parental and child positions to maximise the effectiveness of therapy and so minimise drop-out.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): family therapy, Foucauldian discourse analysis, users’ views of family therapy services, qualitative research methods
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Mapping Maternal Subjectivities, Identities and Ethics (MAMSIE), Gender and Sexuality, Birkbeck (BiGS), Social Research, Birkbeck Institute for (BISR)
    Depositing User: Bruna Seu
    Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2013 11:30
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:02


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