‘I was just thinking’
Cognitive self-reports and engagement with feelings-talk in child mental health assessments
Keywords:child psychology, conversation analysis, emotional and behavioural difficulties, epistemics, expert–lay discourse, feelings-talk
Based on a corpus of child mental health assessment meetings, this article explores how practitioners use reports on their own cognitive processing, such as I was just thinking or I’m just wondering, in interaction with children and adolescents presenting with potential mental health issues. Using the methods of conversation analysis, the findings reveal different ways in which this device is used to encourage the child to engage with a particular topic, interpretation, or version of events from the standpoint of subjective experience; in other words, to produce feelings-talk. The analysis contributes further towards the understanding of child–adult interaction in professional arenas of action: in this case child mental health assessments.
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