Therapists' and clients' thoughts and emotions in time-limited dynamic psychotherapy

Antoinette E-L Mathisen (2007)

This study examined the self-reported emotional and cognitive reactions of therapists and clients within 117 sessions of Time Limited Dynamic Psychotherapy. Parallel versions of two self-report questionnaires (Client/Therapist Appraisal Questionnaire and Client/Therapist Thought Listing Questionnaire) were used to measure therapists' and clients' positive and negative emotions (Challenge and Negative Stress) and positive and negative thoughts (Thought Index). Session impact was measured with the Session Impact Scale (SIS), which contains three scales: Task Impacts, Relationship Impacts, and Hindering Impacts. Multiple regression analysis revealed that therapists' positive and negative emotions were significantly related to clients' thoughts, emotions and session impact. More specifically, as therapists experienced more negative emotions, clients experienced more negative emotions, less progress toward goals, experienced the therapy relationship as less positive and reported more negative session impacts. As therapists experienced more positive emotions, clients experienced more positive emotions, more progress towards goals, experienced the therapy relationship as more positive and reported less negative session impacts. Findings did not support the hypothesis that therapists' Thought Index scores would add to the prediction of clients' reactions. The one exception was the finding that therapists' negative Thought Index was shown to add significantly beyond the effect of therapists' Negative Stress, to the variance in clients' positive and negative thoughts. These results highlight the importance for therapists to be aware of the ways in which their emotional and cognitive reactions are related to the therapy process. The implications for clinical training and research are discussed as well as some of the limitations of the current study.