Conversation analysis of the two-chair self-soothing task in emotion-focused therapy

Sutherland, Olga and Peräkylä, Anssi and Elliott, Robert (2014) Conversation analysis of the two-chair self-soothing task in emotion-focused therapy. Psychotherapy Research, 24 (6). pp. 738-751. ISSN 1050-3307 (

[thumbnail of Sutherland, Perakyla & Elliott in press CA of Self-soothing author final]
PDF. Filename: Sutherland_Perakyla_Elliott_in_press_CA_of_Self_soothing_author_final.pdf
Accepted Author Manuscript
License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 logo

Download (299kB)| Preview


Despite an increasing recognition of the relevance and significance of self-compassion processes, little research has explored interventions that seek to enhance these in therapy. In this study, we used conversation analysis to examine the compassionate self-soothing task of emotion-focused therapy involving two-chair work, with seven clients. The analysis yielded a detailed description of interactional practices and processes involved in the accomplishment of self-soothing, drawing on Goffman’s concept of the participation frame. In this article we show how therapists and clients collaborate to move from the ordinary frame of therapeutic conversation to a self-soothing frame and back again. Furthermore, we show that in this movement between the frames, they make use of a number interactional practices: therapists' instructions to clients, specific ways of sequencing actions in interaction, explanations and justification of the importance of the self-soothing task, pronouns as a way to distinguish among addressees (e.g., clients versus soothing agents), corrections of clients’ talk, and response tokens (hm mm, yeah, good). These practices are used to help clients accomplish self-soothing in the form of self-praise, disclosing caring, and offering of helpful advice.


Sutherland, Olga, Peräkylä, Anssi and Elliott, Robert ORCID logoORCID:;