Neurophysiology of therapeutic alliance

Gestalt Journal of Australia and New Zealand
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Journal Article
Gestalt Journal of Australia and New Zealand, 2009, 5 (2), pp. 19 - 47
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Currently no studies exist on assessing neurophysiological correlates, especially brain activity, during therapeutic alliance (TA) between client and therapist. The aims of this study were to assess electroencephalography (EEG) activity in the client with symptomatic anxiety throughout therapy during moments of high TA established using SCR measurements from both client and therapist. Fifteen clients aged, 48 ± 9.4 years (males: n=7, females: n=8) underwent six (S1-S6), weekly 1-hour psychotherapy sessions (90 hours of repeated measures). For the duration of therapy the frontal site remained active while the occipital site `went to sleep. During high TA the parietal cortex - the `seat of imagination, was active. The parietal cortex appears to be highly active when processing trauma as the client develops cognitive and emotional insight. The temporal site reflected accessing emotional memory with high alpha and beta activity. Heart-rate (HR) and anxiety levels decreased over time.
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