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Neuroanalysis of therapeutic alliance in the symptomatically anxious: the physiological connection revealed between therapist and client.

Abstract

This study was an attempt to establish neurophysiological correlates, particularly brain activity, during high therapeutic alliance (TA) between client and therapist. The aim was to assess electroencephalography (EEG) activity in clients with symptomatic anxiety during high TA using skin conductance resonance measurements from both client and therapist. Thirty clients, aged 43.8 +/- 11.5 years (males: n=15 females: n=15), underwent six, weekly, 1-hour sessions (180 hours of repeated measures). The EEG activity was measured from the prefrontal, temporal, parietal and occipital sites during the sessions. State and trait anxiety, Working Alliance Inventory (WAI) and heart rate measures were obtained before and after each session. Prefrontal, parietal and occipital sites were associated with TA. Anxiety and heart rate were found to decrease after therapy, and for both the client and the therapist, the WAI score increased significantly in later sessions. The results are discussed from the perspective of further understanding the neurophysiological associations to TA.

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  • Publisher Full Text
  • Authors

    Stratford T, Lal S, Meara A

    Institution

    University of Technology, Department of Medical and Molecular Biosciences, Sydney, Australia. trishas@powerup.com.au

    Source

    American journal of psychotherapy 66:1 2012 pg 1-21

    MeSH

    Adult
    Anxiety Disorders
    Arousal
    Brain Mapping
    Cerebral Cortex
    Electroencephalography
    Female
    Follow-Up Studies
    Galvanic Skin Response
    Heart Rate
    Humans
    Male
    Middle Aged
    Personality Inventory
    Physician-Patient Relations
    Psychotherapy
    Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
    Sympathetic Nervous System

    Pub Type(s)

    Journal Article

    Language

    eng

    PubMed ID

    22523792