Negotiating anger and agency, responsibility, and change: discourse analysis of narrative therapy for male intimate partner violence

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Denton, Emily

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University of Guelph


The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the practice of narrative therapy with men who have perpetrated intimate partner violence. Discourse analysis and conversation analysis were used to study two therapy sessions of a therapist-client dyad. I explored the ways in which the client assumed or refused agency and responsibility for his anger and actions, and how the therapist encouraged him to take responsibility for abuse in relation to his experience and management of anger. The analysis showed how the therapist and client co-construct the client's goals and values and his awareness of his own anger. Analysis also demonstrated how the participants construct gender socialization as a constraint and how they contrast the client's past and present. This study highlights the complexity and variability of participants' constructions of the client's agency and progress. Findings are discussed in terms their implications for intervention and further research.



narrative therapy, men, intimate partner violence, responsibility, experience, anger management, gender socialization