Meanings Of Friendships In Substance Abuse Clients' Talk In The Probation Service

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: Booth 55
Oral Presentation
Harri SARPAVAARA , School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
Although several studies have examined the influence of friendships on clients’ substance abuse and treatment outcome, there is a paucity of research examining clients’ talk about their experience of the meaning of friendships. This paper explores the meanings substance-abusing clients attach to friendships during motivational treatment sessions in probation service. By using semiotic framework, this paper examines client’s change-related talk utterance about friendships as a symbolic sign. The analyses are based on videotaped data consisting of 98 motivational counseling sessions. This database involves the first two sessions of 49 client-counselor pairs. Sessions were videotaped in 12 Probation Service offices in Finland in 2007–2009. In general, the findings of this qualitative study indicate that the friendships play an important role in the substance-abusing clients’ motivation to change. The results of the study display that the meanings of friendship were divided into four categories: a support to change, a reason to change, an obstacle or a threat to change, and a surmounted obstacle to change. The study also suggests that the personal meanings of clients’ utterances in motivational counseling sessions could be seen as potential predictors of their future behavior.