Ditte Andersen’s article, just published on Early View, explores the role of clients and professionals in achieving change through drug treatment.
Professionals who provide drug treatment to young people seek to approach clients as agents of change, i.e., highlight clients’ agency and ownership of treatment plans. On the basis of ethnographic data from two treatment institutions in Denmark, this article investigates how everyday interaction organizes clients’ experiences in ways that alternately support and contradict this professional ambition. Notably, findings indicate that talk and material arrangements “backstage” make professionals, not clients, appear as the real agents of change. Clients are increasingly encouraged to participate in meetings “backstage,” where treatment is organized, but, contrary to intentions, clients may experience participation as debasing rather than empowering.