Talking about violence: a micro-analysis of narrative processes in a family therapy session

Peter Rober, D. Van Eesbeek, Robert Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, we look at the development in family therapy of narratives about domestic violence. We report on microanalyses of a family therapy session, using narrative research methods, including some conversation analytic tools. The main questions posed in this investigation were: How does storytelling of a highly charged and delicate topic like domestic violence develop in the session?; how do the different actors in the therapy room contribute to telling such stories?; how do actors try to put forward domestic violence as a conversational topic?; and how do different actors react to these attempts? Our research illustrates how the recounting of stories of violence seems to go hand in hand with modes of interaction that discourage the telling of these stories. In the back-and-forth process between voices of hesitation and voices of reassurance, the participants weigh the level of safety in the session. In as far as the voices of hesitation can be reassured of the safety, it becomes gradually possible to talk about delicate, problematic experiences, such as violence in the family.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-328
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Marital and Family Therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2006


  • family therapy
  • domestic violence
  • therapy room
  • problematic experiences


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