Practices of Argumentation in a Community of Therapists: Constructing a Dilemma

Alexis Ibarra Martínez


The research reported in this article adopted a discursive perspective, focusing on the production of arguments in interaction between therapists: that is, intersubjective coordination as it unfolds through narrative sequences. The key premise is that people constitute their social reality through the active use of language. The data consist of tape-recordings of meetings between therapists reflecting on their clinical practice. Therapists' descriptions of their clinical work can be divided into two different argumentative positions: one labeled "collaborative," the other labeled "directive." Analysis focuses on how therapists justify and criticize both positions. It is through this process of argumentation that therapists advocate for a collaborative stance, while at the same time keeping a directive stance even though it represents a clash with their preferred values. Therapists resolve this opposition by creating arguments oriented to justify the adoption of a directive stance while recognizing its undesirability. These findings are discussed in terms of the notion of dilemma as a rhetorical construction which enables and constrains the ways of thinking within a community of therapists.



discursive psychology; ethnomethodology; rhetoric; dilemmas; professional interaction; collaborative therapy


Copyright (c) 2014 Alexis Ibarra Martínez

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