Volume 6   Number 1     Spring 2012

Dialogical Sequence Analysis in Studying Psychotherapeutic Discourse
Mikael Leiman
University of Eastern Finland
pp. 123-147

ABSTRACT. Dialogical sequence analysis (DSA) is a microanalytic method of analyzing utterances. Based on Mikahil Bakhtin’s theory of utterance it states that, when communicating, individuals simultaneously position themselves with regard to the referential object and the addressee.  Depending “about what” people are speaking and “to whom” they direct their words affect the style and composition of their utterances. Such positioning is semiotic in the sense that the referential object is always construed by personal and historically formed meanings. The historicity of subjective construal applies to the addressee as well. Utterances are often complicated by the fact that there are often hidden or invisible addressees in addition to the ostensible interlocutor. DSA developed in the context of psychotherapy supervision and process research. The article introduces a meta-model of psychotherapy process, which claims that all therapies strive to create a joint observational stance for making sense of clients’ problematic experiences. Hence, the psychotherapies provide a natural laboratory within which internal experiences become tangible through expressions and utterances. The fundamental unit of analyzing the double positioning in relation to the topic and the addressees is semiotic position. Being a relational concept, it cannot be used to single out and categorize distinct units of speech. The way by which semiotic positions are identified in DSA will be illustrated by three excerpts from psychotherapy literature.