Organising Therapists’ Emotional-Social Skills: Are Therapists that Different? : A thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology at Massey University, Palmerston North New Zealand
Wampold and Imel (2015) argue that therapeutic outcomes may be more dependent on variables associated with therapists than treatment systems. An element of these therapist variables include the emotional and social skills of therapists, however, to date, little has been done to investigate the relationships between these therapy factors. One exception to this is pilot research conducted by my supervisors, their students, and myself (Harvey, Marwick, Baken, Bimler, & Dickson, 2016). This thesis aims to replicate and extend on this pilot research as to better understand therapists’ emotional and social skills in practice. Using three complementary approaches including thematic analysis of therapist transcripts, a date-specific literature review, and revision of foundational research, Harvey et al.’s original pool of emotional and social skills was revised and extended. Subsequently, using a statistical method for mapping psychological constructs, therapists’ emotional practices were transformed into a ‘map’ with three spatial dimensions, which was generally supported by comparative reliability checks including a validation study with a foreign-language sample. Finally, the nature of emotional practice was further investigated by administering a questionnaire of emotional practice items to 79 therapists. From this, eight salient practice constructs were identified. Statistical links were also found between these and both demographic data and a modified measure of the therapeutic relationship. Furthermore, using Q-analysis, a general consensus of responding was found between therapists’ emotional response patterns and as a result, a tentative pathway to therapists’ practice styles was developed. From these findings important research and clinical applications are apparent.