Talking the personal problems "in" or "out": The power of gendered discourses in the encounters between psychotherapists and their female clients

The purpose of the first hour(s) in psychotherapy is to talk the personal problems of the client “in”. In these early encounters the therapist will have to offer some notions for the ways in which these problems may fit the procedures for therapeutic work.

The conversation works to establish affective involvement in both parties. The conversation between them will create viable formats to represent the experiences of the client, and together they will search for some kind of directedness in their efforts to create change. In the last hour(s) in a planned termination of psychotherapy, the problems should hopefully be talked “out”.

The therapist and the client may notice that the suffering has just vanished, that other experiences have taken over on the personal scene, or that the problems are somewhat less influential. Talking them "out" also means to summarize how it happened, and attribute the particular kind of change to circumstances in the everyday life of the client or to how subjective experiences were interpreted between them in the psychotherapy hours.

The presentation is based on a conversational analysis of a set of first and last hours in psychotherapy processes where both parties agree to that some significant changes have taken place.

The analysis is a search for how gendered discourses are brought in, or excluded when problems are talked “in” or “out”. It may be done directly with references to gender and heterosexuality, or indirectly through the presence of the female client and the ways she is positioned when her experiences are told and retold. The guiding question is how gendered power relations are reproduced or counteracted in the place where female clients meet therapists that are assumed to be gender neutral and affirmative.

Publisert 3. des. 2010 09:47