• ‘Gossiping' as a social action in family therapy: The pseudo-absence and pseudo-presence of children

      Parker, Nicola; O'Reilly, Michelle; Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust; University of Leicester (Sage, 2012-08-01)
      Family therapists face a number of challenges in their work. When children are present in family therapy they can and do make fleeting contributions. We draw upon naturally occurring family therapy sessions to explore the ‘pseudo-presence’ and ‘pseudo-absence’ of children and the institutional ‘gossiping’ quality these interactions have. Our findings illustrate that a core characteristic of gossiping is its functional role in building alignments’ which in this institutional context is utilized as a way of managing accountability. Our findings have a number of implications for clinical professionals and highlight the value of discourse and conversation analysis techniques for exploring therapeutic interactions.
    • Parents’ resistance of anticipated blame through alignment strategies: a discursive argument for temporary exclusion of children from family therapy.

      Kiyimba, Nikki; O'Reilly, Michelle; University of Chester; University of Leicester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015-09-02)
      In this chapter, we utilise a discourse perspective to explore ways in which parents manage therapeutic alignment in family therapy. As therapy is an activity which relies heavily on the use of language (McLeod, 2001), we use a language-based analytic approach to explore child mental health, particularly as discourse analysis is most appropriate for looking at family therapy processes (Roy-Chowdhury, 2003). In this chapter, we present a case for the deliberate temporary exclusion of children in the initial stages of a series of therapeutic sessions. The purpose of this temporary exclusion is to provide opportunities for therapists to engage in active solution-focused alignment with parents in order to provide a foundation and set boundaries for later work with the whole family. We also argue that while this initial session with parents is taking place, the child could be otherwise engaged in a session of their own so that the child’s perspective and expectations are also managed effectively.
    • ‘She needs a smack in the gob’: negotiating what is appropriate talk in front of children in family therapy

      O'Reilly, Michelle; Parker, Nicola; University of Leicester; Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust Spring Road Centre (Wiley, 2012-06-11)
      Tackling the day-to-day challenges of family therapy can prove difficult for professionals. A particular issue arising in family therapy is the notion of what is appropriate for children. Families report events from their social world, out-there to the therapy in-here. There are occasions where the content is ‘adult’ in nature and this has to be managed in front of the children. On some occasions family members use derogatory or negative descriptions of their children while their children are present. Drawing upon naturally occurring family therapy sessions, we present a discourse analysis of how this is managed through a range of discursive resources. We show that adult family members construct what is inappropriate for children to be exposed to by positioning blame with others. This has implications for how family therapists deal with inappropriateness when children are present while maintaining the equilibrium of therapeutic alliances.