On how to include psychotherapists in research on psychotherapies


  • Ivan Leudar Emeritus Professor of Historical Psychology, University of Manchester




In this paper I examine three broadly ethnomethodological projects on organisation of psychotherapeutic practices (Fitzgerald and Leudar 2010; Leudar, Sharrock, et al. 2008; and Davies, Thomas and Leudar 1999). Psychotherapists participated in the research in all these projects; the purpose of the current examination is to ascertain how they contributed to the projects and whether their contributions were necessary. The expectation was that the therapists provided background information, which helped the ethnomethodologists to understand the therapy talk, not just as conversations but also as therapeutic practices. One conclusion of the present examination is that conversation analysis of psychotherapy indeed needs to be enriched by background ethnographic information in general; the actual participation of the psychotherapists ensures that it is used in a relevant and occasioned way. The second is that the work on "mentalisation" in psychotherapy presupposes understanding of how therapists and clients contextualize their talk. The third is that psychotherapy does not happen just in the "consulting room" but extends into the life beyond – this further points to the relevance of "ethnograpical augmentation".