Objective: To examine knowledge displays (KDs), a practice by which Therapeutic Community (TC) professionals exhibit previous knowledge about their clients’ circumstances and experiences. Methods: Conversation analysis is used to examine 12 staff-led meetings recorded in Italy (8 in a drug addiction TC; 4 in a mental health TC).
Results: The TC professionals use KDs within broader sequences of talk where they solicit their clients to share personal information and where the clients provide insufficient or inconsistent responses. In these circumstances, the staff members employ KDs to pursue responses that redress emerging knowledge gaps and discrepancies regarding the clients’ experiences or circumstances.
Conclusion: KDs allow the staff members to achieve a balance between respecting their clients’ right to report their own experiences and influencing the ways in which they report them. KDs help to reinforce the culture of openness that is central to many forms of therapeutic interaction, to forward the therapeutic agenda and to expand the staff members’ knowledge of the clients’ experiences and circumstances.
Practice implications: KDs can be used to solicit clients to share personal information. This paper illustrates core features that underlie the function of KDs (where they are used and how they are constructed).