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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Conversation analysis : ritual in experimental systemic couples therapy involving alcohol dependence Dubberley-Habich , Patricia A.


This study was intended to fulfill three goals which will be described. Its method, subjects, results, and limitations will also be discussed. Following Gale's (1989) lead, the first goal, was to contribute to application of the ethnomethodological technique of conversation analysis to the field of family therapy, specifically experiential systemic couples therapy. The second goal was to discover themes emergent from the data. These characterized the process of therapeutic change, particularly with an alcoholinvolved couple. This was achieved by noting details of conversational interaction, both verbal and nonverbal, between the members of the therapeutic system. The third goal, was to highlight the nature of a ritual through the separation, liminal, and integration stages. The couple's problems were externalized, experienced, and resolved in the present through ritually burning symbols. Conversation analysis was conducted on one session with an alcoholinvolved couple. The session was videotaped, audiotaped, and then transcribed for intensive analysis. All other sessions with the couple and therapist were reviewed to add context to the interview on which this study focussed. Twelve themes emerged from the analysis. These were the central theme of ritualization and its constitutive subthemes of personal and family myths, symbolization, experiential, externalization, intensification, contextual/systemic, constructivist meaning shifts, therapist empathy, therapist genuineness, collaboration, and therapist artistry. Each was discussed and supported with quotes from the transcript. These quotes demonstrated both positive or successful exemplars and deviant or unsuccessful examples. Possible limitations which might be ameliorated by adding related studies to this line of research involve several points. These include the degree of representativeness of the participants, lack of random sampling, small sample size, reactivity to videotaping, and researcher biases. In summary this investigation used conversation analysis with an alcoholinvolved couple participating in ritualization in experiential systemic therapy. It has as its goal to add to the research regarding each of these topics so as to guide researchers and therapists in conceptualizing change through therapeutic interventions.

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