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‘That boy needs therapy’: Constructions of psychotherapy in popular song lyrics

Hadjiosif, Miltiades; Coyle, Adrian


Adrian Coyle


© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Despite a plethora of academic and clinical descriptions of psychotherapy, less research attention has been focused on the ways in which psychotherapy is talked about and represented in popular culture. This study investigates constructions of psychotherapy in the lyrics of popular songs and identifies the vocabularies, versions and relevant discourses that are invoked or crafted. A critical discourse analysis was applied to 24 songs and yielded three broad themes: ‘Banal therapy’, the ‘Non-therapeutic relationship’ and ‘I know therefore I can’. These discursive objects are examined in light of a constructionist understanding of knowledge and power within a discussion of how their interplay is implicated in the status of psychotherapeutic concepts and practices as ‘expert knowledge’. Some clinical implications are attended to without making claims that this study has identified ontological representations of psychotherapy in popular culture.


Hadjiosif, M., & Coyle, A. (2017). ‘That boy needs therapy’: Constructions of psychotherapy in popular song lyrics. European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling, 19(4), 357-377.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 28, 2017
Online Publication Date Oct 16, 2017
Publication Date Oct 2, 2017
Deposit Date Oct 11, 2017
Journal European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling
Print ISSN 1364-2537
Electronic ISSN 1469-5901
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 4
Pages 357-377
Keywords discourse analysis, popular music, psychotherapy, social constructionism, song lyrics
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in European Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling on 16 October 2017, available online:


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