Three Voices in a Norwegian Living Room: An Encounter from Physiotherapy Practice

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Abstract

This article demonstrates how uses of the body regulate togetherness and availability in clinical encounters. A first encounter between a physiotherapist and a married couple in their home is analyzed. The husband suffers from functional consequences of a stroke. The therapist's job is to assess his functional capacity and determine how he can best be helped. The article centers on the process of interaction, specifically on verbal and bodily actions pertaining to developing role negotiations. Comprehensive excerpts demonstrate that a struggle is going on between the husband and his wife over the management of information about his condition. This imposes dilemmas of control and caring on the therapist. The article describes the maneuvering of the parties and shows how the therapist manages her professional tasks. Emphasis is placed on the particular predicaments that a clinical encounter can generate in a private residence, and on how clinical tasks are embedded in social processes. Finally, the article questions the (often tacit) analytical assumption that "interaction" and "diagnostics" are separate phenomena, and shows how the understanding of both can be advanced if seen as mutually constitutive processes, [clinical encounters, communication, embodiment, physiotherapy, visiting practice]

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