Exploring clients’ responses to changing pronoun use from second person (you) to first person (I) during therapy: A constructivist qualitative approach.
Priest, Alan; Hollins Martin, Caroline J; Bager Charleson, Sofie
Prof Caroline Hollins-Martin C.HollinsMartin@napier.ac.uk
Sofie Bager Charleson
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 the use of reflection, the counsellor can work with their client to explore more fully their attributions of responsibility
within situations that are discussed.
Priest, A., Hollins Martin, C. J., & 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), 183-192. https://doi.org/10.1002/capr.12065
|Journal Article Type||Article|
|Acceptance Date||Feb 15, 2016|
|Online Publication Date||Feb 15, 2016|
|Publication Date||Jul 8, 2016|
|Deposit Date||Sep 7, 2016|
|Publicly Available Date||Feb 16, 2018|
|Journal||Counselling and Psychotherapy Research|
|Peer Reviewed||Peer Reviewed|
|Keywords||counselling; intervention; pronouns; therapy; attribution theory|
Exploring clients’ responses to changing pronoun use from second person
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Priest, A., Hollins Martin, C. J. 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. Couns. Psychother. Res., 16: 183–192. doi:10.1002/capr.12065, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/capr.12065. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.