When 'listeners can't talk' : comparing active listening in opening sequences of telephone and online counselling

Danby, Susan J., Butler, Carly, & Emmison, Michael (2009) When 'listeners can't talk' : comparing active listening in opening sequences of telephone and online counselling. Australian Journal of Communication, 36(3).

View at publisher


While there is growing use of online counselling, little is known about its interactional organisation and how it compares to telephone counselling. This is despite past research suggesting that both counsellors and clients report the impact of the different modalities on the presentation and management of the counselling interaction. This paper compares the interactional affordances of telephone and online web counselling in opening sequences on Kids Help Line, a 24-hour Australian counselling service for children and young people up to the age of 25. We examine two ways that counsellors show active listening through response tokens and formulations. The analysis describes how counsellors’ use of minimal response tokens facilitate the clients’ problem presentation and are used in the management of turn taking and sequence organisation. For example, counsellors use the response token Mm hm to show that they understand that the client’s unit of talk to is not yet complete, and to affirm or invite the client to continue speaking. Formulations in phone and web counselling are another way that counsellors display active listening to re-present stretches of the clients’ preceding talk. In phone and web counselling, however, the respective modalities can complicate matters of turn transition and sequence organisation. By examining actual phone and online counselling sessions, this paper offers empirical demonstrations of the interactional affordances of phone and online counselling, and shows how the institutional practice of active listening is accomplished across different counselling modalities

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

1,607 since deposited on 04 Dec 2009
193 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 29064
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Funders: ARC
Keywords: helplines, conversation analysis , children and young people, online counselling, counselling
ISSN: 0811-6202
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100) > Communication Technology and Digital Media Studies (200102)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > LINGUISTICS (200400) > Discourse and Pragmatics (200403)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Health Clinical and Counselling Psychology (170106)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Early Childhood & Inclusive Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 University of Queensland.
Deposited On: 04 Dec 2009 01:31
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2014 01:31

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page