A study of silent disengagement and distressing emotion in psychotherapy


Fifty-two psychotherapy sessions were coded for silences that reflect processes of client disengagement (e.g., withdrawal, resistance). The study examined the presence of these silences and clients' reports of in-session emotion and symptom change. Results indicated that disengagement predicted poorer proximal and distal outcome as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory for Primary Care (BDI-PC) and poorer proximal outcome on the Symptom Checklist-5, but it was not significantly predictive of Outcome Questionnaire-45 scores. Interitem analyses revealed that disengagement had a significant proximal effect on depressive mood and negative self-evaluative items assessed by the BDI-PC, but across time these effects were sustained for the negative self-evaluative items only. © 2010 Society for Psychotherapy Research.

Publication Title

Psychotherapy Research