Fluctuations in Therapist Emotions and Their Relation to Treatment Processes and Outcomes

Maayan Abargil*, Orya Tishby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Recent research suggests that changes in therapists’ emotions are linked to changes in their client’s pattern of relations and characteristics (Dahl, 2016) during therapy. This is an exploratory study in which we tried to identify how fluctuations in therapist emotions throughout treatment are associated with changes in client symptoms and the working alliance. To do so, we performed multiple regression analyses in which clients’ symptoms and therapeutic alliance were predicted by changes in therapists’ feelings. The analysis was based on 20 subjects (13 females and 7 males aged 18 to 42). In addition, we present two case studies from this sample. We found that fluctuation in a single emotion throughout treatment did not predict symptom reduction or an increase in alliance; however, an interaction between the fluctuation in two emotions did predict symptom change and an increase in the alliance. The findings suggest that therapy outcome is facilitated when therapists are open to different emotional states. Consistently identifying with only one emotion may signal rigidity, which does not facilitate successful outcome.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Psychotherapy Integration
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Psychological Association.


  • countertransference
  • process
  • supportive-expressive
  • therapist flexibility
  • working alliance


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