Begoña Rojí is a professor at the UNED Faculty of Psychology. In her publications, the author stresses the importance of the psychotherapist’s communication skills during clinical practice.
His contributions in the field of psychotherapy are evident in his studies, oriented to the practice of psychotherapy together with other professionals of psychology.
Specifically, try to answer the following questions: what are the communication skills needed by a psychologist who applies psychotherapy? What phenomena must the psychology teacher keep in mind regarding the patient-psychotherapist relationship during the sessions?
Begoña Rojí and Raúl Cabestrero have collected in a work the basic guidelines to develop the main communication skills of the psychotherapist in clinical practice.
The text is “Entrevistas y sugestiones indirectas: communicative entrenamiento para jóvenes psychotherapeutas”. In the space that follows we will analyze the main aspects highlighted by the two experts.
The interview during the psychotherapy session
The clinical interview is a procedure applied in psychotherapy in order to observe and analyze the behavior of a patient, and then, with the information obtained, to be able to establish a treatment that suits his difficulties.
According to the author, the interview is based on the communication between patient and psychotherapist, set up in such a way as to identify the problem and the context in which it is immersed.
In this regard, it is important to know how this communication takes place between patient and psychotherapist. The techniques used by the psychologist to manage communication during the interview play a fundamental role in psychotherapy.
Rojí’s techniques on verbal intervention
Verbal communication involves messages expressed in words. The clinical interview in psychotherapy is mostly based on the verbal expression of the patient and the interviewer.
It starts from the idea that even what the professional says influences the psychotherapy path. Consequently, attitudes such as criticizing, lecturing, bombarding with questions, or making accusations negatively affect the psychological intervention.
The techniques by which the psychotherapist can conduct the interview verbally are varied. In this regard, the author draws a ranking based on the directivity or non-directivity of the psychotherapist.
Directional techniques are all those verbal interventions by the person conducting the interviews, for which the message was previously structured and organized.
In directing techniques the patient assumes a passive role during the session. An example of directivity is the survey, which consists in asking questions directly about the problems presented by the patient: “what are you referring to?”, “What do you mean by this?”.
With the expression “non-directivity” Begoña Rojí wants to indicate a type of intervention in which the psychotherapist, after having conducted an active listening session, makes some observations on the interview.
Therefore, the reflections vary according to what the patient expresses, which allows the patient to have an active role in the orientation of the session.
An example of the non-directive technique is the reflex: the psychotherapist captures the affective part of the client’s message, gives it an emotional meaning with a message such as: “at that moment you felt sad”, “that change scared you”, ” the situation was a surprise ”.
The techniques of the non-verbal interview
Non-verbal communication can be defined as that set of communicative elements that are not expressed in words, but through body language. For example, body language refers to posture, facial expression, eye contact.
We must say that during the clinical interview the patient’s non-verbal attitude is an important source of information about his emotions and thoughts. In this regard, non-verbal communication is part of a person’s modes of expression.
Starting from the fact that the meaning of non-verbal behaviors varies from one person to another and from one culture to another, we can say that there is agreement on the meaning of non-verbal behaviors. It becomes essential to analyze the variables of each patient and how they take into account their context.
For example, direct eye contact between patient and psychotherapist indicates attention and desire to communicate. Keeping the legs and arms closed, on the other hand, can be a sign of stress on the part of the patient, who may feel tense about the topic discussed during the interview.
In the context of the psychotherapy relationship, it is not only the patient’s non-verbal behavior that is interesting, but also that of the professional, who must be equally attentive to the non-verbal messages that he himself sends to his patient.
The patient’s perception of the psychotherapist as a professional will largely depend on the effectiveness of the therapeutic process.
This is why the psychologist must have some control and have a good knowledge of the non-verbal messages that he himself sends, as well as of the non-verbal messages sent by the patient.
Interaction as the main factor in the psychotherapist’s communication skills
The perception we have of others is a primal mechanism of any interaction. In fact, when two or more people interact, the main factor is how I perceive the other person and how this person perceives me, so that we can interact with each other.
If we perceive a person as unpleasant, we are probably not particularly affectionate in communicating with them. If, on the other hand, we perceive it as pleasant, we will certainly show ourselves more sympathetic.
Precisely for this reason, the psychotherapist must take into account the way in which patients interact, without neglecting the way in which he himself interacts.
To put it another way, it is important to know the nature of the interpersonal perception between patient and psychotherapist. In this way you will know how well the therapy is set up or if there is an element in the interaction that is not well started.
Concluding reflections on the psychotherapist’s communication skills
In summary, Begoña Rojí pours his experience and professional training into his studies, making a huge practical contribution with exercises supported by everyday examples of psychotherapy.
Specifically, this article is a reflection on the main elements highlighted in the text of this author “ Entrevistas y sugestiones indirectas: entrenamiento comunicativo para jóvenes psicoterapeutas “.
In it, the author conveys a practical point of view, as well as a theoretical one, on the everyday phenomena faced by all professionals in psychology.