University of Leicester
2018DARTAMPhD.pdf (1.91 MB)

A Conversation Analysis Of The Discourse Of Group Supervision

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posted on 2018-08-23, 14:56 authored by Alison M. Dart
This thesis is a conversation analytic study of how people talk in clinical group supervision sessions. The study sought to describe and elucidate patterns of discourse by which group supervision members talk the institution of supervision ‘into being’ (Heritage, 1984:290). The data comprise a core of 21 audio recorded sessions. The recordings were made in a British University’s Practice-Based Counselling and Psychotherapy Research Clinic. All recordings are of one supervision group comprising of an experienced supervisor and three counsellors. The counsellors also all worked as clinicians in the clinic’s counselling agency. The recordings cover fortnightly supervision sessions over the course of one year. The thesis presents a detailed analysis of communications amongst the participants. In particular the thesis will show how they begin the business of supervision, with an ‘business-opening’ activity phase, which functions as an interim stage between small talk and getting down to business and orients the interactional activity to ‘feelings talk’. It shows how participants co-ordinate the presentation of case studies in a sequentially managed way. The thesis will also show how the use of ‘modelling talk enactments’ by the supervisor is responded to as advice-giving and shows how the interactants negotiate and align to the enactment with reference to an inference regarding ‘who knows what’ and ‘who knows most’. And finally, the thesis demonstrates how interactants organise laughter for negotiating the ‘tricky’ aspects of professional consideration, such as ‘liminal’ ethical aspects; appointing or accepting ‘responsibility’ for institutional problems and for negotiating where delicate matters between group members may be incipient. The study contributes to conversation analytic knowledge regarding CA literature on institutional interaction, particularly on therapeutic discourse and opens up directions for further CA research. The study also offers the findings to supervision research comprising a rare study into the ‘real-life’ interactions in group supervision.



Wheeler, Susan; Hutchby, Ian

Date of award


Author affiliation

Institute of Lifelong Learning

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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