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Responsive Persistence Part I: Therapist Influence in Postmodern Practice


  • Special thanks to Drs. Tom Strong and Clare MacMartin for their comments on an early draft of this article and to Dr. Karl Tomm and his clients for kindly agreeing to participate in the study.


Feminist and social constructionist developments in family therapy highlighted the importance of attending to therapist–client power relations and incorporating clients' understandings and preferences as a part of therapy. Significantly, less attention has been given to how postmodern therapists do use their power and influence. This is an important topic because it is therapists who have the major responsibility for guiding the interaction with clients and persisting in this so that change is facilitated. Therapist persistence in various forms and across dimensions of therapy process is examined to expand understanding of therapist influence in postmodern and collaborative work. An analysis of responsive persistence in a session with Karl Tomm as the therapist is presented to illustrate this conceptual framing.