The interactional accomplishment of feelings-talk in psychotherapy and executive coaching

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Feelings-talk is considered an important interaction type in many helping professions as the ‘helping’ element often involves various forms of engagement in emotional work. In this chapter we identify and critically assess the interactional forms and functions of feelings-talk in Relationship-focused Integrative Psychotherapy and Emotional Intelligentes Coaching. By adopting methods and insights from Conversation Analysis, (Critical) Discourse Analysis and Interactional Sociolinguistics, we demonstrate how the endemic feature of psychotherapy, i.e. feelings-talk, emerges as an interactionally accomplished project as psychotherapist and clients work through the clients’ personal issues. We then show how the interactional context of executive coaching both relies on, and further extends, the psychotherapeutic feelings-talk strategies to address clients’ professional dilemmas. Besides emancipatory goals such as fostering clients’ self-enhancement, clients’ emotions are thereby partly functionalized for organizational goals. Feelings-talk can thus be regarded as a constitutive feature of both helping professional formats addressed in this paper, yet with different professional goals.


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