Conversation analysis and family therapy

a narrative review

Ben Ong*, Scott Barnes, Niels Buus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Conversation analysis (CA) can provide insight into interactional micro-processes of family therapy. Past reviews of CA and family therapy have focused on methodology without descriptions of research findings, reducing the likelihood that the findings of CA research are employed to guide practice. This narrative review provides therapists with a description of CA findings that can inform family therapy practice. Systematic searches of databases, individual journals, and citation analyses were completed in April 2018 resulting in twenty-five articles for review. The findings of this narrative review were summarised around three areas: family members’ talk about each other, therapists’ responses to the family, and the use of reflecting teams. The use of reflecting teams and various conversational devices may help engage multiple participants. Future CA research into family therapy could focus on longer sequences, the overall structural organisation of sessions and the interactions of multiple therapists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-203
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Family Therapy
Issue number2
Early online date31 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • conversation analysis
  • family therapy
  • narrative review

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