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Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2006 Jun;31(2):173-85.

The influence of voice volume, pitch, and speech rate on progressive relaxation training: application of methods from speech pathology and audiology.

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Department of Psychology, West Virginia University, PO Box 6040, Morgantown, WV 26506-6040, USA.


Vocal characteristics of therapists, including voice volume, pitch and timbre of speech, and rate of speech have been hypothesized to facilitate the therapeutic process, particularly during procedures like progressive relaxation training (PRT). Very little empirical work, however, has examined the relation between vocal characteristics and treatment process or outcome. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of vocal characteristics during a single session of PRT applying technological innovations devised for speech pathology and audiology settings for evaluating therapist's vocal characteristics. Forty-eight high anxious young adult women were randomly assigned to one of four conditions for training: PRT with the recommended therapist voice (RV) that decreased in tone, volume, and rate across the session, PRT with conversational therapist voice during the session (CV), a credible treatment control called systematic self-relaxation (SR), or no treatment control (NT). All subjects participated in a single PRT session during which heart rate, EMG, self-report measures of tension (SRT) and anxiety, and treatment credibility ratings were obtained. Results revealed significant reductions in SRT, self-reported anxiety, and heart rate for participants in all groups. Only the RV group displayed significant reductions in EMG when compared with the other three groups. Participants in the RV group also rated the therapist's voice as "more facilitating" of relaxation when compared to the CV group. These results suggest that methods employed for evaluating the quality of vocal characteristics in speech and audiology clinics may be useful for evaluating the quality of therapist's voice when conducting PRT.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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