Eliciting stance and mitigating therapist authority in open dialogue meetings

Ben Ong, Scott Barnes, Niels Buus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Open Dialogue is a collaborative systemic approach to working with families in crisis. A core feature is the creation of dialogue through the elicitation of a multiplicity of voices. Using conversation analysis, we studied 14 hr of Open Dialogue sessions. We found that therapists recurrently produced utterances containing “I’m wondering.” These utterances topicalized particular issues and invited stance positions from other participants while also allowing the therapist to mitigate their deontic authority and present potentially disaligning stances. Therapists thus exercised authority in eliciting stances, but provided recipients with multiple avenues for responding. These findings illustrate that therapist authority is not necessarily antithetical to dialogue and, in well-crafted forms, may even be necessary for the creation of polyphony through the elicitation of multiple stances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-135
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Marital and Family Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes

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