What is it about?

Patients and therapists frequently influence each other and encounter tensions in therapy. We have shown that for at least a subgroup of patients, therapists' behaviors of taking or giving control in therapy play an important role in therapeutic tensions. We also found that while therapists and patients' interpersonal behaviors are connected at momentary level universally, the patterns in which they are influenced by each other and co-create the relational tensions are highly unique for each session.

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Why is it important?

Our findings point to the importance of paying attention to momentary process in psychotherapy and to not only patients' but also therapists' contributions to therapeutic ruptures. The findings also highlighted the importance of understanding psychotherapy processes using idiographic methods, given that each session demonstrated highly unique interpersonal dynamics.


This study was an important step for me to integrate intense clinical practice with patients with personality pathology and research on therapy microprocesses with intensive data collection. Psychotherapy is nothing like a "pill" in the medical model where we just “deliver" a type of treatment method; Instead, it is a dynamic system that changes momentarily and is co-created by the dance of both patient and therapist. Each moment is meaningful and unique.

Xiaochen Luo
Santa Clara University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Idiographic and nomothetic relationships between momentary interpersonal behaviors, interpersonal complementarity, and alliance ruptures in psychotherapy., Journal of Counseling Psychology, May 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/cou0000619.
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