Doing therapies: on the tangibility of theory in interactional practices

Lisanne Knol

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

321 Downloads (Pure)


This dissertation examined the interactional repertoire of psychotherapists during therapy sessions with depressive patients using the method of conversation analysis. After all, in the treatment of mental disorders like depression language takes a central role. On the one hand, this research provides insight into the design of the interactional practices therapists use in psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral therapy. On the other, we examined how these practices of speaking relate to underlying theoretical frameworks of the two therapy modalities.
In the empirical studies of this research project we scrutinized four interactional practices: reformulating and mirroring of prior utterances, collaborative productions and moments of silence. From a quantitative angle, there were no categorical differences found in the use of formulations, mirroring or anticipatory completions resulting in the collaborative production of turns of talk. However, the qualitative analysis of these interventions revealed that therapists actually do show a slight orientation towards the theoretical preference of the respective therapy type. Further, we argue that psychodynamic therapists demonstrate variation and flexibility in the translation between theory and actual application of treatment.
The results of this research contribute towards the description of interventions in treatment manuals and theories underlying therapy modalities. Also, our findings can contribute towards the education, training and professionalization of (future) psychotherapists by sharpening their interactional awareness for the ever so fleeting properties of talk and for the consequences that interventions can have on the course of a therapy session.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Huiskes, Mike, Supervisor
  • Koole, Tom, Supervisor
  • Desmet, Mattias, Supervisor, External person
Award date8-Jun-2023
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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