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Psychother Res. 2014;24(6):687-701. doi: 10.1080/10503307.2013.879619. Epub 2014 Feb 11.

Prosody and empathic communication in psychotherapy interaction.

Author information

1
a Finnish Centre of Excellence in Research on Intersubjectivity in Interaction , University of Helsinki , Finland.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the prosodic aspects of therapists' empathic communication.

METHOD:

70 audio-recorded sessions of cognitive psychotherapy and psychoanalysis were analysed using conversation analysis.

RESULTS:

Two interactional trajectories where the therapists either validated the clients' emotions or challenged them were identified. The difference between these trajectories was not evident in the lexical composition of the therapists' formulations that initiated the trajectory. However, the prosodic features of the formulation already anticipated the direction of the trajectory. The formulations leading up to the validating trajectory were characterized by prosodic continuity and formulations leading up to the challenging trajectory by prosodic disjuncture. The choice between continuous and disjunctive prosody was a key resource for therapists in the construction of formulations as either validating or challenging.

CONCLUSIONS:

The present article emphasizes the relational aspects of psychotherapy communication by considering the prosodic features of the therapist's talk in relation to the prosody of the client.

KEYWORDS:

cognitive behavior therapy; emotion in therapy; psychoanalytic/psychodynamic therapy; qualitative research methods

PMID:
24517281
DOI:
10.1080/10503307.2013.879619
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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