Relational Work and Identity Construction in Email Counseling
Project funded by own resources
Project title Relational Work and Identity Construction in Email Counseling
Principal Investigator(s) Locher, Miriam
Thurnherr, Franziska
Organisation / Research unit Departement Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften / English Linguistics (Locher)
Project Website
Project start 01.11.2012
Probable end 01.05.2019
Status Completed

In my PhD I research the interpersonal aspect of psychotherapeutic discourse in email therapy: how is the client-therapist relationship (= therapeutic alliance (Krupnick et al. 1996: 532)) discursively constructed when communicating solely in written form?
Two themes are central in my analysis of the therapeutic alliance: relational work and identity construction, including their possible link. Locher and Watts (2005:10) define relational work as "the 'work' individuals invest in negotiating relationships with others." Fina (2010: 207) emphasizes "the conception of identity as a process rather than as a concept, and the stress on interaction and social practices as its locus of construction and investigation." The study, hence, aims to advance our understanding of this specific practice (email counseling), to add to research on relational work in an under-researched area of electronic health discourse, and to shed light on the link between relational work and identity construction.

A mixed methodology has been chosen for the analysis: through a discourse analytic approach, emails are analyzed in terms of how technical and social factors influence the practice, what kind of discursive moves and their linguistic realizations are used, what kind of relational work is carried out, and how participants construct their identities. The resulting descriptive framework of discursive moves, relational work, and identity construction is cross-referenced to elaborate on how they can be linked to either endangering or enhancing the therapeutic alliance.

Fina, Anna. "The negotiation of identities." Interpersonal Pragmatics. M. A. Locher and S. L. Graham. Berlin, Mouton: 205-224.
Krupnick, J. L., S. M. Sotsky, et al. (1996). "The role of the therapeutic alliance in psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy outcome. Findings in the National Institute of mental Health Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Program." Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 64(3): 532-539.
Locher, M. A. and S. L. Graham, Eds. (2010). Interpersonal Pragmatics. Handbooks of Pragmatics. Berlin, Mouton.
Locher, M. A. and R. J. Watts (2005). "Politeness theory and relational work." Journal of Politeness Research 1(1): 9-33.

Keywords Interpersonal Pragmatics, Computer-Mediated Communication, Health Communication, Relational Work, Identity Construction
Financed by University funds
Other funds

Published results ()

  ID Autor(en) Titel ISSN / ISBN Erschienen in Art der Publikation
4471204  Thurnherr, Franziska  "As it's our last exchange next time..." The closure initiation in email counseling  1615-3014  Linguistik online  Publication: JournalArticle (Originalarbeit in einer wissenschaftlichen Zeitschrift) 
3884099  Rudolf von Rohr, Marie-Thérèse; Thurnherr, Franziska; Locher, Miriam A.  Linguistic expert creation in online health practices  978-3-319-92662-9 ; 978-3-319-92663-6  Analysing digital discourse: new insights and future directions  Publication: Book Item (Buchkap., Lexikonartikel, jur. Kommentierung, Beiträge in Sammelbänden etc.) 
4136522  Locher, Miriam A.; Thurnherr, Franziska  Typing yourself healthy: Introduction to the special issue on language and health online  1615-3014  Linguistics Online  Publication: JournalArticle (Originalarbeit in einer wissenschaftlichen Zeitschrift) 
3580587  Thurnherr, Franziska; Rudolf von Rohr, Marie-Thérèse; Locher, Miriam A.  The functions of narrative passages in three written online health contexts  2300-9969  Open Linguistics  Publication: JournalArticle (Originalarbeit in einer wissenschaftlichen Zeitschrift) 

MCSS v5.8 PRO. 0.437 sec, queries - 0.000 sec ©Universität Basel  |  Impressum   |