G5 Doctoral dissertation (article)
Constructions of agency and nonagency in psychotherapy : the 10 discursive tools model (2019)

Toivonen, Heidi (2019). Constructions of agency and nonagency in psychotherapy : the 10 discursive tools model. JYU dissertations, 141. Jyväskylän yliopisto. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-7870-9

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Toivonen, Heidi

eISBN: 978-951-39-7870-9

Journal or series: JYU dissertations

eISSN: 2489-9003

Publication year: 2019

Number in series: 141

Number of pages in the book: 1 verkkoaineisto (87 sivua, 71 sivua useina numerointijaksoina, 13 numeroimatonta sivua) :

Publisher: Jyväskylän yliopisto

Publication country: Finland

Publication language: English

Persistent website address: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-7870-9

Open Access: Publication published in an open access channel


This research examined how nonagency—a client’s sense of lost mastery in one’s life—was discursively constructed in the first psychotherapy session. The data consisted of the videotaped and transcribed first sessions of nine individual longterm psychotherapies. Study I focused on exploring how different nonagentic – and to some degree, agentic- positions became constructed in the first therapy session. A model of discursive construction of agency and nonagency called the 10 Discursive Tools Model (10DT) was created combining theoretical considerations of agency and the data analysis performed with different discursive research methodologies. The model, presented as the result of Study I, consists of 10 pairs of discursive means called tools. With them, agentic and nonagentic positions became ascribed to the clients in the talk of both the clients and their therapists. Study II utilized the model in analyzing the construction of nonagency in the clients’ initial problem formulations at the beginning of their first session. In Study III, the 10DT Model was used in the analysis of discursive discordances, sequences where the client and therapist were misaligned in how they ascribed agency or nonagency to the client. The clients’ agency or nonagency construction in the turn immediately following the discordances was also studied, and such three-turn discordance sequences were classified according to whether and how the clients’ self-ascription of agency or nonagency changed in them. This research shows the multiplicity and variety of agentic and nonagentic positions as well as the potential of the 10DT Model in the study of agency and nonagency construction in psychotherapy conversations. It also highlights the importance of therapists’ discursive responsiveness.

Keywords: psychotherapy; human agency; discourse; interaction

Free keywords: discursive research; problem talk; psychotherapy interaction

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2019

Last updated on 2020-09-07 at 11:47