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A preliminary study of the role of attunement in adult psychotherapy

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Publication details

JournalHuman Relations
DatePublished - Oct 1997
Issue number10
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)1261-1273
Original languageEnglish


This paper presents the results of a preliminary study on the recognition of affect attunement in adult psychotherapy. Brief extracts from six videotaped therapy sessions were shown to experienced clinicians, who were asked to judge whether the therapist was attuned to the client/patient or not. Clear examples Of attunement and non-attunement were obtained and these were then shown to a sample of postgraduate social work trainees. The trainee results showed none of the consistency of the clinicians' judgments: 67% (n = 21) were undecided about the example of attunement, with only 19.3% (It = 6) giving responses which corresponded with those of the clinicians. For the non-attuned extract, just over a third gave a response which coincided with the clinicians, with 42% (n = 13) undecided. The results were used to develop a model for future research on affect attunement, which should provide the basis for the development of strategies for teaching the attunement skills which may be required by therapists.

    Research areas

  • attunement, psychotherapy, research, trainees, attachment, CONSTRUCTION, VALIDATION, SCALE, COMMUNICATION, ATTACHMENT, INFANTS

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