Homework setting in cognitive behavioral therapy: A study of discursive strategies


  • Andrew Beckwith University of Adelaide
  • Jonathan Crichton University of South Australia




cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), theme orientated discourse analysis, home work, face threatening act


In recent years cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of psychotherapy, has risen to prominence due to a large number of studies attesting to its efficacy. A crucial part of the model of CBT is the use of the therapeutic strategy, homework, in which the client undertakes therapeutic tasks between sessions. The focus of this study is on how homework is implemented in sessions of CBT. This is undertaken through an analysis utilizing theme-orientated discourse analysis of video recorded sessions of CBT of one therapist and a client. Through tracking the focal theme of homework, the analysis focuses on homework as a face-threatening act (Brown and Levinson 1987) and how discursive strategies are employed to manage this issue. Other analytic themes include the use of frames (Goffman 1974) and constructed dialogue (Tannen 2007). It is the expertise of the therapist in putting into practice the therapeutic task of homework that is the subject of this study.

Author Biographies

  • Andrew Beckwith, University of Adelaide
    Andrew Beckwith, BMBS, PhD, FRANZCP, is a Director of Psychiatric Training and a HIV/Hepatitis C Liaison Psychiatrist. He is also Clinical Lecturer in the Discipline of Psychiatry at the University of Adelaide. His research interests include the role of language in psychotherapy.
  • Jonathan Crichton, University of South Australia
    Jonathan Crichton, PhD, is Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and a Member of the Research Centre for Languages and Cultures, University of South Australia. His research focuses on the role of language in interactions in health and educational settings.






How to Cite

Beckwith, A., & Crichton, J. (2015). Homework setting in cognitive behavioral therapy: A study of discursive strategies. Communication and Medicine, 11(2), 91-102. https://doi.org/10.1558/cam.v11i2.16169