Patient affect experiencing following therapist interventions in short-term dynamic psychotherapy

  • Town J
  • Hardy G
  • McCullough L
 et al. 
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The aim of this research was to examine the relationship between therapist interventions and patient affect responses in Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (STDP). The Affect Experiencing subscale from the Achievement of Therapeutic Objectives Scale (ATOS) was adapted to measure individual immediate affect experiencing (I-AES) responses in relation to therapist interventions coded within the preceding speaking turn, using the Psychotherapy Interaction Coding (PIC) system. A hierarchical linear modelling procedure was used to assess the change in affect experiencing and the relationship between affect experiencing and therapist interventions within and across segments of therapy. Process data was taken from six STDP cases; in total 24 hours of video-taped sessions were examined. Therapist interventions were found to account for a statistically significant amount of variance in immediate affect experiencing. Higher levels of immediate affect experiencing followed the therapist's use of Confrontation, Clarification and Support compared to Questions, Self-disclosure and Information interventions. Therapist Confrontation interventions that attempted to direct pressure towards either the visceral experience of affect or a patient's defences against feelings led to the highest levels of immediate affect experiencing. The type of therapist intervention accounts for a small but significant amount of the variation observed in a patient's immediate emotional arousal. Empirical findings support clinical theory in STDP that suggests strategic verbal responses promote the achievement of this specific therapeutic objective.

Author-supplied keywords

  • emotion in therapy
  • process research
  • psychoanalytic/psychodynamic therapy

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  • Joel M. Town

  • Gillian E. Hardy

  • Leigh McCullough

  • Chris Stride

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