The voice of a researcher: Therapeutic discourse in the qualitative interview

Nancy Helen Kelly (2003)

This study utilizes the methodologies of discourse analysis to examine the dialogic processes of the qualitative interview and to identify the implementation of therapeutic strategies employed by the interviewer in this context. It examines how these strategies extend or diminish the dialog between interviewer and respondent and how they contribute to the process and outcomes of the qualitative interview. It explores the nature of the qualitative interview as compared to the therapeutic encounter and considers the similarities and differences of the two processes. The therapeutic techniques included for analysis within this study are empathy, reflective listening, probing, method of questioning, and therapist self-disclosure. Empathy, reflective listening, and probing are considered to be action-oriented strategies in therapy. They are recognized as foundational alignments that enable further exploration into a topic. The text provides examples that analyze the applications and outcomes of these therapeutic techniques. While self-disclosure is viewed by some clinicians as a valuable tool, it may also place a therapist in a vulnerable position that impedes the dialog and diminishes therapist/client interaction. This study offers examples of how interviewer self-disclosure can limit the dialog of the interview and illustrates how it may marginalize certain discourses and disrupt the cadence of the interview process. This study utilized archival data that was drawn from another researcher's exploration of gay, lesbian, and bisexual narratives of identity. The current analysis recognizes the co-construction of identity within the interview event and identifies how interpersonal positioning strategies contribute to the narratives offered by respondents. The results of this study indicate that therapeutic strategies appeared to allow the conversational style of qualitative research to be thoroughly enacted within the interview and that qualitative methodologies may be further defined or limited by the personal and professional style of the interviewer.