Taking a Proposal Seriously: Orientations to Agenda and Agency in Support Workers’ Responses to Client Proposals

  • Melisa StevanovicEmail author
  • Camilla Lindholm
  • Taina Valkeapää
  • Kaisa Valkia
  • Elina Weiste
Part of the The Language of Mental Health book series (TLMH)


While joint decision-making is regularly launched by a proposal, it is the recipients’ responses that crucially influence the proposal outcome. This chapter examines how support workers respond to the proposals made by clients during rehabilitation group meetings at the Clubhouse. Drawing on a collection of 180 client-initiated proposal sequences, the paper describes two dilemmas that the support workers face when seeking to take client proposals “seriously.” The first concerns the meeting’s agenda and consists of a tension between providing recognition for the individual client and encouraging collective participation. The second dilemma has to do with agency and consists of a tension between focusing on the client as the originator of the proposal and avoiding treating him or her alone accountable for it. The analysis of these dilemmas contributes to a deeper understanding of group decision-making, in general, while these findings have specific relevance in mental health rehabilitation.


Agenda management Distribution of agency Participation Proposals Joint decision-making Mental health rehabilitation Conversation analysis Personal pronouns 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melisa Stevanovic
    • 1
    Email author
  • Camilla Lindholm
    • 2
  • Taina Valkeapää
    • 1
  • Kaisa Valkia
    • 1
  • Elina Weiste
    • 3
  1. 1.University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Tampere UniversityTampereFinland
  3. 3.Finnish Institute of Occupational HealthHelsinkiFinland

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