Introduction: Therapists’ responses to patients play a crucial role in psychotherapy and are considered a key component of the patient–clinician relationship, which promotes successful treatment outcomes. To date, no empirical research has ever investigated therapist response patterns to patients with different personality disorders from a neuroscience perspective. Methods: In the present study, psychodynamic therapists (N = 14) were asked to complete a battery of instruments (including the Therapist Response Questionnaire) after watching three videos showing clinical interactions between a therapist and three patients with narcissistic, histrionic/borderline, and depressive personality disorders, respectively. Subsequently, participants’ high-density electroencephalography (hdEEG) was recorded as they passively viewed pictures of the patients’ faces, which were selected from the still images of the previously shown videos. Supervised machine learning (ML) was used to evaluate whether: (1) therapists’ responses predicted which patient they observed during the EEG task and whether specific clinician reactions were involved in distinguishing between patients with different personality disorders (using pairwise comparisons); and (2) therapists’ event-related potentials (ERPs) predicted which patient they observed during the laboratory experiment and whether distinct ERP components allowed this forecast. Results: The results indicated that therapists showed distinct patterns of criticized/devalued and sexualized reactions to visual depictions of patients with different personality disorders, at statistically systematic and clinically meaningful levels. Moreover, therapists’ late positive potentials (LPPs) in the hippocampus were able to determine which patient they observed during the EEG task, with high accuracy. Discussion: These results, albeit preliminary, shed light on the role played by therapists’ memory processes in psychotherapy. Clinical and neuroscience implications of the empirical investigation of therapist responses are discussed.

Therapist reactions to patient personality: A pilot study of clinicians’ emotional and neural responses using three clinical vignettes from In Treatment series

Nicola Carone
Writing – Original Draft Preparation
;
2022-01-01

Abstract

Introduction: Therapists’ responses to patients play a crucial role in psychotherapy and are considered a key component of the patient–clinician relationship, which promotes successful treatment outcomes. To date, no empirical research has ever investigated therapist response patterns to patients with different personality disorders from a neuroscience perspective. Methods: In the present study, psychodynamic therapists (N = 14) were asked to complete a battery of instruments (including the Therapist Response Questionnaire) after watching three videos showing clinical interactions between a therapist and three patients with narcissistic, histrionic/borderline, and depressive personality disorders, respectively. Subsequently, participants’ high-density electroencephalography (hdEEG) was recorded as they passively viewed pictures of the patients’ faces, which were selected from the still images of the previously shown videos. Supervised machine learning (ML) was used to evaluate whether: (1) therapists’ responses predicted which patient they observed during the EEG task and whether specific clinician reactions were involved in distinguishing between patients with different personality disorders (using pairwise comparisons); and (2) therapists’ event-related potentials (ERPs) predicted which patient they observed during the laboratory experiment and whether distinct ERP components allowed this forecast. Results: The results indicated that therapists showed distinct patterns of criticized/devalued and sexualized reactions to visual depictions of patients with different personality disorders, at statistically systematic and clinically meaningful levels. Moreover, therapists’ late positive potentials (LPPs) in the hippocampus were able to determine which patient they observed during the EEG task, with high accuracy. Discussion: These results, albeit preliminary, shed light on the role played by therapists’ memory processes in psychotherapy. Clinical and neuroscience implications of the empirical investigation of therapist responses are discussed.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11571/1476421
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