Free
Research Article  |   November 1991
The Narrative Nature of Clinical Reasoning
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Cheryl Mattingly, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1919 West Taylor Street, Chicago, Illinois 60612
  • Copyright © 1991 by the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.
Article Information
Research
Research Article   |   November 1991
The Narrative Nature of Clinical Reasoning
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, November 1991, Vol. 45, 998-1005. doi:10.5014/ajot.45.11.998
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, November 1991, Vol. 45, 998-1005. doi:10.5014/ajot.45.11.998
Abstract

Narrative reasoning is a central mode of clinical reasoning in occupational therapy. Therapists reason narratively when they are concerned with disability as an illness experience, that is, with how a physiological condition is affecting a person’s life. In this paper, narrative reasoning is contrasted with propositional reasoning, and two kinds of narrative thinking are examined. The first is the use of narrative as a mode of speech that can be contrasted with biomedical discourse, in which disability is framed as physical pathology. The second involves the creation rather than the telling of stories. Therapists try to “emplot” therapeutic encounters with patients, that is, to help create a therapeutic story that becomes a meaningful short story in the larger life story of the patient.