January 7, 2009

Helpful questions and interventions research

An article by Tom Strong and Kate Nielsen, Constructive conversations: Revisiting selected developments with clients and counsellors, was published in Counselling and Psychotherapy Research.

The research identified five common themes that both counsellors and clients called core experiences in social constructionist conversations: 1. Exploring and adopting the client's perspective, 2. Identifying alternative perspectives, 3. Identifying strengths, possibilities and solutions, 4. Developing a shared understanding, 5. Struggling to talk in a different way.

Cliƫnts indicated the following aspects as the most helpful in the conversations: 1. Counsellor showing interest, 2. Counsellor stopping and checking in, 3. Counsellor asking questions to gain clarity, 4. Counsellor summarizing understanding, 5. Client responding to counsellor's understanding, 6. Asking similar questions repeatedly.
Hat tip to Gwenda Schlundt Bodien for mentioning this article.


  1. Thanks for the summary, Coert!

    The social construction reminds me of work from Chris Argyris and advocacy/inquiry -- are you aware of any links with them?


  2. Hi Christine, I know a bit about Chris Argyris. I've read some of his work. I am not sure to what extent there is a link between his work and social constructionism but it's quite possible that there is. Social constructionisme began to be quite influential in the 70's and 80's so may have had some influence on him too.


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