Patient–Therapist Congruence and Incongruence of Process Expectations During Psychotherapy

Dana Tzur Bitan, Tzviel Ben David, Rotem Moshe-Cohen, Yogev Kivity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recent studies suggest that patient–therapist congruence of expectations affects psychotherapy outcome. Nonetheless, most studies assessing expectations in their dyadic context have focused on outcome expectations. This study was aimed to assess whether patients and therapists view expected processes similarly, and whether these beliefs change over time to become more congruent or more dissimilar. Patients (N = 75) were assessed for process expectations at baseline and at 3 months into treatment, and their therapists (N = 17) reported on their general expectations only once, prior to the initiation of treatment. Multilevel models were fitted to assess differences between patients’ and therapists’ process expectations at baseline and after 3 months and changes in level of congruence. The results indicated that at baseline, therapists perceived the processing of therapist–patient relations as the expected therapeutic process, whereas patients viewed the provision of tools of cognitive control as such. No significant changes in patients’ expectations after 3 months of treatment were detected; however, therapists’ higher expectations of the provision of tools for cognitive control predicted increases in patients’ rankings of this process. These results suggest that patients and therapists are incongruent in their views of the expected therapeutic process, and that therapists’ initial views of the therapeutic process affect patients’ beliefs. These findings highlight the importance of investigating process expectations in the dyadic context and set the stage for subsequent process–outcome demonstrations, focusing on the effect of patient–therapist congruence of process expectations as a potential predictor or mediator of psychotherapy outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-498
Number of pages6
JournalPsychotherapy
Volume58
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. American Psychological Association

Keywords

  • Patient factors
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy
  • Psychotherapy process
  • Therapist factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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