Clients' emotional instability and therapists' inferential flexibility predict therapists' session-by-session empathic accuracy

Gal Lazarus, Dana Atzil-Slonim, Eran Bar-Kalifa, Ilanit Hasson-Ohayon, Eshkol Rafaeli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Clients' emotions often serve as a major focus for therapists' attention. Interestingly, little is known about the factors that facilitate or hinder therapists' accurate assessment of these emotions. We hypothesized that therapists' accuracy would be negatively tied to their clients' emotional fluctuation (i.e., instability) and positively tied to the therapists' own inferential fluctuation (i.e., flexibility) as well as to the clients' emotional intensity. Clients (N = 98/N = 76) received weekly psychodynamic psychotherapy at a university-based clinic. Following each session, clients reported their within-session emotions, and therapists provided their own assessment of their clients' emotions. As expected, when clients' emotions were more unstable, therapists were less accurate in tracking these emotions. Additionally, when therapists' assessments of their clients' emotions were more flexible, they were more accurate in tracking them. Our results help identify factors that predict accurate emotion perception within psychotherapy and may translate into actionable ideas for enhancing this accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-69
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Volume66
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2019

Keywords

  • Emotion dynamics
  • Empathic accuracy
  • Empathy
  • Psychotherapy

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Clients' emotional instability and therapists' inferential flexibility predict therapists' session-by-session empathic accuracy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this