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Title: When therapists sense and feel with their clients: Tracing the dynamic relationship of somatic countertransference and body awareness in the framework of the body psychotherapeutic alliance
Authors: Sakellariou, Maria - Olga
Keywords: Somatic countertransference / somatic resonance, ,
Evidence based body psychotherapy
Therapeutic alliance
Body awareness
Issue Date: 2018
Abstract: Somatic Countertransference (SCT), the embodied emotional reactions of a psychotherapist towards her /his client, is a crucial component in the framework of the Body Psychotherapeutic Alliance. SCT becomes informed through Interoceptive Body Awareness (IBA) and impacts through its use therapeutic process and alliance. Empirical evidence is rare, mainly existing in the form of clinical vignettes or a limited number of qualitative studies. In the present study, the relationship between IBA and SCT has been assessed and their impact on Therapeutic Alliance (TA) explored in a sample of Greek and International Body Psychotherapists, based on quantitative data. The study's instruments included the "Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness" (MAIA), a cluster of variables measuring SCT and the "Working Alliance Inventory from the Therapists' perspective" (WAI-S-T). Our results outlined body psychotherapists' professional profile and shed light, through the lens of their subjective experience, on patterns and dynamics of the body psychotherapeutic practice. Findings confirmed the crucial influence that SCT and IBA, as "universal" concepts, exert on TA stating the existence of a significant prediction model of moderate strength, explaining as a whole 26.0% of variance in TA. Furthermore, the Awareness of SCT experiences could be strongly predicted by IBA and three of its sub concepts, Attention Regulation (AR), Emotional Awareness (EA), Self-regulation (SR) explaining 26.4% (IBA model), 25% (AR model), 24% (EA model), 24% (SR model) of SCT variation respectively. The model containing therapists' accepting attitude towards such experiences as independent variable strongly predicted with 31% variation in their awareness as well. Additionally, the model containing the experience of SCT and the actual processing of related issues through a holistic embodied supervision had strong predictive capacity (39.7%) with regards to their use in the diagnosis and planning of interventions in the therapeutic relationship. Last but not least SCT acted as a significant predictor for the perception of TA as a whole and for its bond and task related aspects. The aforementioned results invite attention to the centrality of SCT experiences for a body aware psychotherapeutic professional identity and practice and hope to contribute to a more coherent scientific basis for an evidence-guided Body Psychotherapy (BP).
Appears in Collections:Program in Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy

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