Clients' strategic self-presentation in counselling through discourse




Stypka, Kazimiera

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This dissertation is a descriptive study of clients' strategic self-presentations in counselling. Using naturally occurring counselling interviews as a source of data and an adaptation of ethnomethodology and conversational analysis as the primary research method, clients' strategic self-presentations are explicated and formally described. The focus of the study is on the conversational, interactional and linguistic practices used by clients in the production of their strategic self-presentations. The data consist of twenty tape-recorded and transcribed counselling interviews collected through the counselling services of a community college. After the initial analysis of the data, instances of clients' strategic self-presentations are selected and analyzed in detail. The findings of this study are the following: (1) that clients in counselling situations use various strategic self-presentations, such as: self-enhancement, self-promotion, ingratiation and self-aggrandizement; (2) that clients construct their self-presentational strategies according to their own interactional style, their perception of the counselling and the goal of the counselling; (3) that the main conversational practices in the construction of clients' self-presentations include: adjacency pairs, through which the client initiates the self-presentational talk, and formulation, through which the counsellor acknowledges or recognizes the accomplishment of the client-initiated strategy; (4) that other interactional features and devices are used in the construction of clients' strategic self-presentations, including paralinguistic features, agreements and compliments. This study represents a different approach to the study of interaction between clients and counsellors, through the examination of discourse as it occurs in actual counselling interviews.



Counselor and client, Counseling