What my body tells me about your experience: ‘My side’ empathy formulations in ADHD coaching sessions

Wytske Versteeg*, Hedwig te Molder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We explore how coaches in a Dutch ADHD coaching center present their own bodily sensations as indicative of their client's inner state, an interactional strategy defined here as ‘my side’ empathy formulations. We argue that this type of formulation is a strategy employed by coaches to negotiate the meaning of their clients’ experience, and to circumvent the ensuing epistemic dilemmas. ADHD coaches in this center present their clients’ complaints not as an unavoidable consequence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but as the result of unproductive routines or thought processes. This conceptualization is at odds with the expectations of clients looking for a way to control their ADHD. Coaches employ ‘my side’ empathy formulations to challenge their clients’ view and to propose an alternative, agency-oriented coaching agenda. ‘My side’ empathy formulations appear a robust interactional strategy to claim knowledge about what constitutes the authentic self of the other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-86
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Coaching
  • Conversation analysis
  • Discursive psychology
  • Empathy
  • Formulations
  • My side tellings
  • Neuroscience


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