Childhood‐Grounded Explanations for Personal Troubles: Social Problems Work in Radio Counseling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper examines how images of unfortunate childhoods are invoked to make sense of psychological problems in adulthood. I use conversation analysis and membership categorization analysis to study a Swedish radio program in which a psychotherapist talks to people about their personal troubles. The findings suggest that, on one hand, the image of an unfortunate childhood was used as an explanatory framework for individuals' problematic experiences. On the other hand, the childhood‐grounded reasoning, applied to individual cases, illustrated the explanatory framework and reaffirmed it as a commonsense way of reasoning about personal troubles.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Work


  • social problems work, radio counseling, childhood asexplanatory framework, membership categorization, conversationanalysis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-283
Number of pages27
JournalSymbolic Interaction
Issue number2
Early online date2019 Aug 5
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Nataliya Thellis a Lecturer at the School of Social Work, Department of Social Sciences at Lund University, Sweden. She earned her MS in Psychology in Kyiv, Ukraine, and her PhD in Social Workin Lund, Sweden. She teaches courses in communication, research in social sciences, and psycho-logical theories in social work. Her research interests include language use in helping relationships, psychotherapeutic discourse, conversation analysis of institutional interaction, membership categorization, and social construction in talk.