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Mental-health practitioners’ use of idiomatic expressions in summarising clients’ accounts

Authors
Journal
Journal of Pragmatics
0378-2166
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
39
Issue
3
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2006.07.009
Keywords
  • Conversation Analysis
  • Idioms
  • Therapy
  • Mental-Health Professionals
Disciplines
  • Medicine

Abstract

Abstract This article is about how some British mental-health professionals use idiomatic expressions (like ‘for all the world’, ‘at the end of the day’, ‘once in a blue moon’ and so on) in their dealings with clients. I found that the practitioner sometimes directly or indirectly attributed these expressions to the client. In each case the practitioner was exploiting what Drew and Holt (1988) report is an interactionally terminal feature of idioms: their supposed universality and unchallengeability. The effect was to achieve some institutional objective: to close down a topic, to render it comparatively harmless, or, in at least one case, to problematize it and make it fit for therapy.

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