chapter  1
30 Pages

Telling Problems in an Initial Family Therapy Session: The Hierarchical Organization of Problem-Talk Richard Buttny and Arthur D. Jensen

Problems that are seen as serious and without a ready solution may lead one to seek out the help of a specialist, such as a therapist. Therapy sessions are a specialized communication context that involves intensive talk about problems and candidate solutions guided by a therapist (Labov & Fanshel, 1977). Therapy sessions offer a particularly interesting form of communication because participants are oriented to the description and explanation of problems and the search for, and evaluation of, solutions (Bergmann, 1992; Buttny, 1990; Buttny & Cohen, 1991; Gale, 1991; Gale & Newfield, 1992; Lannamann, 1989; Peyrot, 1987; Wodak, 1981). How do participants construct problems through talk? How is language used to allocate responsibility and blame? How are problems responded to? We need to look more closely at how persons talk about problems and how responses to problems are accomplished.