Questioning questions in psychotherapeutic practice: The dialogical dynamics of change in therapy through clients questioning therapists

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The focus of this study is a particular type of questioning in psychotherapy: The unusual, yet recurrent, phenomenon of patients asking questions or making requests to the therapist and the way this alters the dialogical dynamics and therapeutic alliance between the two. Thus, we investigate how these types of question-answer cycles challenge the balance of the dialogical system of therapy including the normally accepted asymmetrical power relation between therapist and patient. The analysis is informed by an ecological perspective which views the dialogical collaboration of therapist and patient as forming a distributed cognitive system. The study shows how disaffiliation to questioning cycles on one hand stress the dialogical system through changing the language game, yet on the other hand, also entertain a subtle form of cooperativeness expressed in that it informs the dyadic system of therapist and patient of precautions to be made in order to secure the therapeutic alliance* . Keywords: Questioning, psychotherapy, interaction, dis-alignment, collaboration, therapeutic alliance, ecological and distributed cognition.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Studies in Language
Number of pages44
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1. Oct 2019


Bibliographical note

Special issue: Questioning Questions in Language, Culture and Cognition


  • Questioning
  • Psychotherapy
  • Interaction
  • Dis-alignment
  • Collaboration
  • Therapeutic Alliance
  • Ecological and Distributed Cognition

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