Exploring clients’ responses to changing pronoun use from second person (you) to first person (I) during therapy : a constructivist qualitative approach

Priest, A, Hollins Martin, CJ and Bager Charleson, S 2016, 'Exploring clients’ responses to changing pronoun use from second person (you) to first person (I) during therapy : a constructivist qualitative approach' , Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 16 (3) , pp. 183-192.

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Background: Personal pronouns like ‘I’, ‘me’ or ‘mine’ are inextricably linked with ownership, with one key benefit of a counsellor inviting a client to consider their pronoun use being an invitation to change their awareness and understanding of a situation. Objective: To gain greater understanding of the impact of inviting clients to use first person pronoun ‘I’, in place of second ‘you’ during therapy and its effects upon the client and therapeutic process. Method: A constructivist qualitative approach using exploratory thematic analysis that engaged one-to-one counselling and follow-up interviews was used. Participants (n=11) were clients who had been referred for counselling via primary care with problems like depression, relationship break-up and/or stress. Findings: Several themes were identified in the data: (1) Potential discomfort from switching to first position; (2) Awareness increased; (3) Avoidance of taking responsibility recognised; (4) Depersonalisation of events; (5) Initiating change; and (6) Effects on sense of self. Comments illustrate that reframing pronouns into first person removes distance between client emotions and problems, which provides them with an opportunity for development. Discussion: Clients can be affected in productive ways when counsellors encourage them to alter their pronoun use during therapy. Through use of reflection, the counsellor can work with their client to explore more fully their attributions of responsibility within situations that are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Journal or Publication Title: Counselling and Psychotherapy Research
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1473-3145
Related URLs:
Funders: Non funded research
Depositing User: Dr Alan Priest
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2015 15:47
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 20:02
URI: https://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/37259

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