Relational interaction in occupational therapy: Conversation analysis of positive feedback
Background: The therapeutic relationship is an important factor for good therapy outcomes. The primary mediator of a beneficial therapy relationship is clinician–client interaction. However, few studies identify the observable interactional attributes of good quality relational interactions, e.g. offering the client positive feedback.
Objective: The present paper aims to expand current understanding of relational interaction by analyzing the real-time interactional practices therapists use for offering positive feedback, an important value in occupational therapy.
Methods: The analysis is based on the conversation analysis of 15 video-recorded occupational therapy encounters in psychiatric outpatient clinics.
Results: Two types of positive feedback were identified. In aligning feedback, therapists encouraged and complimented clients’ positive perspectives on their own achievements in adopting certain behaviour, encouraging and supporting their progress. In redirecting feedback, therapists shifted the perspective from clients’ negative experiences to their positive experiences. This shift was interactionally successful if they laid the foundation for the shift in perspective and attuned their expressions to the clients’ emotional states.
Conclusions: Occupational therapists routinely provide their clients with positive feedback. Awareness of the interactional attributes related to positive feedback is critically important for successful relational interaction.