How therapists' emotion recognition relates to therapy process and outcome

Maayan Abargil*, Orya Tishby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Empathy is an essential characteristic for therapists that explained 9% of the variance in treatment outcomes. Many measures of empathy are based on self-report questionnaires. Therefore, they reflect how a person perceives his empathic abilities, which can be biased from his true abilities. The ability to recognize emotions has been found to be related to empathy and serves as a measure for the use of empathic abilities. In this study, we examined therapists' empathic abilities, using a novel task for recognizing emotions, and looked at how they related to the therapy process and outcomes. The study included 33 patient–therapist dyads. Therapist empathy was assessed with an emotion detection task, the JeFEE. Clients filled questionnaires after each session regarding therapy progress and their symptoms. We found that emotion recognition moderated the change in (a) client secure attachment to therapist, (b) client avoidant attachment to therapist, (c) client working alliance, (d) client rate of tense or upset they felt during the session, (e) client lack of emotional clarity of emotions, (f) client non-acceptance of emotional responses, (g) client overall emotion regulation and (h) client main target complaint. Implication for therapy and therapists' selection and training are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1001-1019
Number of pages19
JournalClinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • cognitive task
  • empathy
  • outcome
  • process
  • therapist effect


Dive into the research topics of 'How therapists' emotion recognition relates to therapy process and outcome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this