This book discusses current theories in linguistics and sociolinguistics as they relate to therapeutic situations, including uses of metaphor, slogans, and proverbs. It shows how people's empathies or feeling of alienation are displayed by the language they choose to describe or discuss events. Dysfunctions as different as depression, drug and alcohol additions, agoraphobia, schizophrenia and bulimia are examined in terms of the language used by clients or patients. It is shown that the way people encode life events influences their self-evaluations, evaluations of others, and their general behaviour, so that therapy becomes a process of learning to retell one's life story.
Every chapter contains either actual narratives from clients or therapist/client interviews with thorough linguistic and sociolinguistic analyses of these speech activities. The therapist is shown how to listen and what to listen for in the client's speech, as well as what kinds of questions to ask.