Volume 5   Number 1     Fall 2011

Flattening Hierarchies? Thoughts on Collaboration and Psychological Dialogues
     That Clients Might Consider Socially Just

Tom Strong
University of Calgary (Alberta, Canada)
pp. 1-16

ABSTRACT: For many psychologists, social justice involves consideration of social and cultural factors worth addressing beyond the immediacies of their dialogues with clients. In this paper, I examine factors relating to the psychologist’s often asymmetric participation in dialogues with clients. By asymmetry, I specifically refer to the psychologist’s professional authority exercised over meanings and actions to be determined in dialogues with clients. “Flattening the hierarchy” is a colloquial phrase referring to recent developments from collaborative action research and dialogic approaches to therapy. These forms of research and therapy share a social constructionist theoretical perspective, wherein meaning and action is seen as negotiated. This paper raises conceptual resources and actions aimed to promote such negotiations between psychologist and client, and the authority shared in them, in ‘flattening hierarchies’.