Therapist nonverbal behavior and perceptions of empathy, alliance, and treatment credibility


The aim of this study was to examine the potential independent and joint impact of 2 specific therapist nonverbal behaviors-eye contact and trunk lean-on perceptions of therapist empathy, the relationship between client and therapist, and the credibility of the treatment. Four different psychotherapists were filmed in 4 combinations of eye contact and trunk lean. Participants rated these therapists after viewing a randomized order of the therapy session videos. Findings indicate that high eye contact and forward trunk lean enhanced perceived therapist empathy, therapeutic alliance, and treatment credibility. These results suggest that therapists could improve their practice by using specific nonverbal behaviors. © 2013 American Psychological Association.

Publication Title

Journal of Psychotherapy Integration