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Script proposals: a device for empowering clients in counselling

Emmison, Michael, Butler, Carly, & Danby, Susan J. (2011) Script proposals: a device for empowering clients in counselling. Discourse Studies, 13(1), pp. 3-26.

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Abstract

Much of the research on the delivery of advice by professionals such as physicians, health workers and counsellors, both on the telephone and in face to face interaction more generally, has focused on the theme of client resistance and the consequent need for professionals to adopt particular formats to assist in the uptake of the advice. In this paper we consider one setting, Kid’s Helpline, the national Australian counselling service for children and young people, where there is an institutional mandate not to give explicit advice in accordance with the values of self-direction and empowerment. The paper examines one practice, the use of script proposals by counsellors, which appears to offer a way of providing support which is consistent with these values. Script proposals entail the counsellors packaging their advice as something that the caller might say – at some future time – to a third party such as a friend, teacher, parent, or partner, and involve the counsellor adopting the speaking position of the caller in what appears as a rehearsal of a forthcoming strip of interaction. Although the core feature of a script proposal is the counsellor’s use of direct reported speech they appear to be delivered, not so much as exact words to be followed, but as the type of conversation that the client needs to have with the 3rd party. Script proposals, in short, provide models of what to say as well as alluding to how these could be emulated by the client. In their design script proposals invariably incorporate one or more of the most common rhetorical formats for maximising the persuasive force of an utterance such as a three part list or a contrastive pair. Script proposals, moreover, stand in a complex relation to the prior talk and one of their functions appears to be to summarise, respecify or expand upon the client’s own ideas or suggestions for problem solving that have emerged in these preceding sequences.

Impact and interest:

8 citations in Scopus
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7 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 40258
Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Advice-Giving, Contrasts, Conversation Analysis, Counselling, Empowerment
DOI: 10.1177/1461445610387734
ISSN: 1461-4456 1461-7080
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > SPECIALIST STUDIES IN EDUCATION (130300) > Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified (130399)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Sociological Methodology and Research Methods (160807)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Current > Schools > School of Early Childhood
Funding:
  • ARC DISCOVERY GRANT/DP0773185
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 SAGE Publications
Deposited On: 23 Feb 2011 10:00
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2014 16:31

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