Conversation Analysis and Family Therapy: A Critical Review of Methodology

Ben Ong*, Scott Barnes, Niels Buus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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This article critiques the use of conversation analysis (CA) as applied to the study of family therapy. Searches of relevant databases and journals as well as citation searches were conducted in April 2018 for relevant articles. Inclusion criteria included the explicit use of CA either solely or in combination with discourse analysis and discursive psychology. This resulted in the inclusion of 25 articles that were reviewed against a guideline for the evaluation of qualitative research to which five items specific to CA were added to ensure a specific and balanced evaluation of the studies. Articles generally had a good application of quality criteria although there was a variation in detail of transcription, application of sequence analysis, and a limited use of validity testing. CA has the potential to complement existing research on family therapy but requires a rigorous application of process and quality criteria. The article provides recommendations for future CA research into family therapy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFamily Process
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)460-476
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Conversation Analysis
  • Family Therapy
  • Review


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