A1 Journal article (refereed)
Moraalinen järjestys ja toimijuuspositiot psykoterapiakeskusteluissa (2021)
The moral order and agency positions in psychotherapeutic conversations

Kurri, K., & Wahlström, J. (2021). Moraalinen järjestys ja toimijuuspositiot psykoterapiakeskusteluissa. Psykologia, 56(1), 67-84.

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

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

Journal or series: Psykologia

ISSN: 0355-1067

Publication year: 2021

Volume: 56

Issue number: 1

Pages range: 67-84

Publisher: Suomen psykologinen seura

Publication country: Finland

Publication language: Finnish

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:


In this article we ask how the moral order of clients’ relationships and lives, and of therapeutic conversations themselves, is discursively constructed in psychotherapy talk. We understand the moral order of relationships to include more or less articulated and shared understandings of: what is valued and what is not, the loyalties, duties and responsibilities expected of partners, the grounds for evaluating actions, and expectations of how value, concern and respect are communicated. We show how participants, while presenting their situations and emotional stances create various agency positions and bring forth different expectations and standpoints, leading to moral dilemmas. Our presentation is based on a series of case studies of individual and couple therapies. The analysis, employing ideas from conversation and discourse analysis, shows instances where clients find themselves restricted by moral conflicts and dilemmas, and perplexed by their own morally questionable acts. We also analyze how experienced therapists orient themselves to such situations, seeking solutions and striving to afford clients new agency positions in relation to them.

Keywords: psychotherapy; conversation; human agency; morals; ethics; problems; conversation analysis; discourse analysis

Free keywords: moral order; therapeutic conversation; conversation analysis; discourse analysis; agency; positions; footing; problem formulations; blaming; moral dilemmas

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2021

JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2022-19-08 at 19:33