A1 Journal article (refereed)
Constructions of Nonagency in the Clients’ Initial Problem Formulations at the Outset of Psychotherapy (2020)

Toivonen, H., Wahlström, J., & Kurri, K. (2020). Constructions of Nonagency in the Clients’ Initial Problem Formulations at the Outset of Psychotherapy. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 50 (1), 77-86. doi:10.1007/s10879-019-09417-8

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Toivonen, Heidi; Wahlström, Jarl; Kurri, Katja

Journal or series: Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy

ISSN: 0022-0116

eISSN: 1573-3564

Publication year: 2020

Volume: 50

Issue number: 1

Pages range: 77-86

Publisher: Springer

Publication country: United States

Publication language: English

DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/s10879-019-09417-8

Open Access: Open access publication published in a hybrid channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/67696


This multiple case study investigated how clients construct nonagentic positions when formulating their problems in the beginning of their first psychotherapy session. The initial problem formulations of nine clients entering psychotherapy were analyzed with a detailed model drawing on discursive methodology, the 10 Discursive Tools model (10DT). We found ten problem formulation categories, each one distinguished by the tool from the 10DT model primarily used to construct nonagency. All clients gave several problem formulations from different categories and constructed nonagentic positions with a variety of discursive tools. When the resulting problem formulation categories were read in comparison with the descriptions of the client’s stance at the outset of psychotherapy as presented in two change process models, the Assimilation of Problematic Experiences Sequence and the Innovative Moments Coding System, some similarities were found. However, the 10DT model brought out much variation in the client’s nonagentic positioning in the formulations, forming a contrast with the more simplified presentations of the client’s initial nonagency given in the change process models. Therapists should pay close attention to how clients express their sense of lost agency at the outset of psychotherapy and how this positions both the client and the therapist as future collaborators in psychotherapy.

Keywords: human agency; psychotherapy; discourse analysis

Free keywords: agency; discursive research; first psychotherapy session; nonagency; problem formulations

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2020-18-10 at 21:06