The thesis reports a discursive investigation of family therapy talk Using discourse and conversation analysis, family therapy data was transcribed and analysed in order to examine participants' concerns in such a context. Video taped data was used in order that non-verbal communication could be captured. Fundamental issues of disability, accountability and therapy ran through the sessions and participants' constructions and versions of these are considered. Following full consideration of methodological and ethical issues two specific themes are examined: complaints and child abuse. In all four analytical chapters a reported concern for the parents was the presence of professional bodies, with many specific references to social services.
In the analysis of the therapy data a number of empirical observations were made from the data
(i) In the first section of the thesis I demonstrate how this professional attention is constructed and narrated by the clients examining the ways in which complaints are constructed by the parents. I examine the felicity conditions in place to construct it as a complaint. Secondly I address the ways in which these complaints are received by the therapist in a way that orients to their unhelpful nature within the remit of therapy.
(ii) The second analytical aspect of the thesis deals with the reported reasons for the professionals' presence by examining issues of reported risk from, and reported instances of child abuse. It is shown that therapy is the normative business of providing an arena for clients to discuss their troubles, and produces difficulty when this is deviated from. The thesis shows how issues of accountability are managed in therapy and demonstrates how parents manage stake and accountability when child abuse is reported.
The analyses from this thesis are of particular interest for both discursive research and disability research as it adds to the growing literature on discourse and therapy and considers the critical approaches that have been forming in disability research. The analysis presented in this thesis demonstrates the benefits of using qualitative techniques with delicate data and contributes to our understanding of arguments surrounding issues like child abuse.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.