The impact of conversational acknowledgers on perceptions of psychotherapists


During conversations, individuals often signal that they are paying attention by the use of verbal and nonverbal cues. This study examined these conversational acknowledgers in psychotherapy and evaluated the effects of therapists varying levels of two specific actions-short utterances and nodding-on perceptions of the therapist. A series of brief psychotherapy videos with therapists displaying different levels of the two types of acknowledgers were presented to 320 participants recruited both online and from a university campus. Analysis indicated that when therapists used high levels of both verbal acknowledgers and nodding or when they refrained from using both types of acknowledgers, therapist empathy and therapeutic alliance were perceived as greater than when therapists engaged in one type of acknowledger but not the other. © 2012 Copyright Society for Psychotherapy Research.

Publication Title

Psychotherapy Research