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January 2022

Interaction, language and the ''narrative turn'' in psychotherapy and psychiatry

Author(s): Nolan, P., Crawford, P., Lewis, A.

Journal/Book: Soc Sci Med. 1996; 43: The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England OX5 1GB. Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd. 1569-1578.

Abstract: The traditional emphasis in psychiatry about ''listening to patients'' has recently been added to by the development of what we call the ''narrative turn'' in mental health care where clients' narratives are emphasised. We shall argue however that both approaches tend to embody similar assumptions about therapeutic transactions and roles, and that much work emphasising narratives reveals little about how therapists and researchers work to reconstruct the clients' accounts. It is therefore vital that the emphasis on narratives be supplemented by a more thoroughgoing approach to shared structures of knowledge which act to prefigure clients' distress, how professional records are a profoundly transformative medium, and how therapeutic encounters work to co-construct clients' narratives, rather than simply reflect or explore them. The radical implications of thinking about therapy in terms of narrative and language need to be more fully discussed in the therapy literature, so the narrative turn does not simply reproduce the common-sense assumptions of more conventional approaches. .

Note: Article Brown B, De Montfort Univ, Sch Social Sci, Milton Keynes MK7 6HP, Bucks, ENGLAND

Keyword(s): narratives; psychiatry; psychotherapy; language; MEANINGS; SEARCH; STIGMA; POWER


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