What is it about?

This study focuses on the psychotherapist's persuasive ability. Communicating a persuasive rationale that explains the client’s problems and how psychotherapy can relieve them, has been proposed as a crucial determinant of outcomes that combats the client’s state of distress, promotes positive expectations, and facilitates the working alliance. However, it remains 1 of the least investigated psychotherapist’s facilitative interpersonal skills without a validated measure. The study aimed to develop a rating scale that measures the psychotherapist’s persuasiveness and examines its relationship with the working alliance. Based on a literature review of the psychotherapist’s persuasiveness, the Therapist’s Persuasiveness Rating Scale (TPRS) was constructed. Seventeen psychotherapy session recordings were used to validate the scale and fourteen psychotherapy session recordings with clients suffering from anxiety were rated using the TPRS and the Working Alliance Inventory-Observer Version-Short Form (WAI-O-S) to examine the relationship between the 2 variables. The validation process showed that TPRS is a valid, reliable, and sensitive measure of the psychotherapist’s persuasiveness. The TPRS revealed a promising measure with good psychometric qualities to advance the research on the psychotherapist’s persuasiveness. Despite a nonsignificant correlation, a linear regression model suggested that the psychotherapist’s persuasiveness explains 65.1% of the working alliance at the beginning of the session. There is some suggestion of the psychotherapist’s persuasiveness effect on the working alliance, but the result missed statistical significance.

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Why is it important?

This study is the first to examine the relationship between the psychotherapist's persuasiveness and the working alliance, which has been theorized in the past, offering the first glimpse at the impact that the psychotherapist's persuasive ability has on other elements of the therapeutic process, such as the collaboration between the client and psychotherapists and the therapeutic relationship. Moreover, it offers the first validated rating scale of the psychotherapist's persuasion. providing the means to advance the study of this severely under-studied psychotherapist's facilitative interpersonal skill. In conclusion, this study suggests that the psychotherapist’s persuasiveness is a measurable interpersonal skill that might facilitate the establishment of an alliance between the therapist and client and provides a foundation for measuring the psychotherapist’s persuasiveness and ascertaining its importance to clinical outcomes


More than just psychotherapists' persuasiveness, this study reflects on psychotherapists' interpersonal skills and how this has an impact and unrolls in the therapeutic process. It offers a novel view of the psychotherapist's persuasiveness, and how it is related to other interpersonal skills and proposes its impact on the therapeutic alliance, one of the most highly studied variables in psychotherapy research.

Margarida Afonseca
Instituto Universitario de Ciencias Psicologicas Sociais e da Vida

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This page is a summary of: Psychotherapist’s persuasiveness in anxiety: Scale development and relation to the working alliance., Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, June 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/int0000288.
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