An examination of mitigation strategies used in Spanish psychotherapeutic discourse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


The present study examined politeness phenomenon in Spanish discourse produced between a therapist and a client during psychotherapeutic motivational interviews as depression and adherence to medication are discussed. In particular, this study examined the mitigation strategies and indirect speech acts used by the interactants. Mitigation has been defined as a modification of a speech act that softens the message for its hearer (Fraser, 1980:341). Several devices such as shields, hedges, parenthetical verbs and proverbial sayings were observed in this discursive context in the qualitative and quantitative analyses. This study also revealed that the use of mitigating devices on the part of the therapist was conditioned by his intentions to attain his goals: to indirectly motivate the client to continue with treatment. The qualitative analysis revealed how references to persons varied and how the Latino cultural notions of el qúe dirán and guardar las apariencias posited by Placencia (1996) emerged in this discursive context. Although mitigating features have been investigated in Spanish (Bravo, 2008; Haverkate, 1990; Hernández Flores, 1999; Murillo Medrano, 2002; Placencia, 1996, among others), overall they remain relatively under investigated in Spanish psychotherapeutic discourse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1964-1981
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


  • Mitigation
  • Spanish
  • Therapeutic discourse

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'An examination of mitigation strategies used in Spanish psychotherapeutic discourse'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this