Theoretical background: Nonverbal modulation in the therapist-patient interaction has increasingly been conceptualized as emotion-specific in recent years.
Objective: To what extent and how do therapists regulate their patients’ mood in an emotion-specific way and what impact does such a non-verbal modulation have on the session outcome?
Method: We used the Emotion-Rating-Inventory II (EMORATE-II) to investigate 84 sessions of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy at the beginning of therapy in terms of nonverbal and conceptual (Gross, 2007) emotion modulation. This video-based rating system allows the investigation of emotion modulation behavior within the psychotherapeutic process.
Results: Therapists regulate the mood of their patients both nonverbally and conceptually. The most significant result was related to the nonverbal modulation of the therapist. Nonverbal modulation is defined as a counter-modulation of tense mood and support of positive mood.
Conclusion: Nonverbal emotion modulation to influence patient’s mood is a significant predictor of the session outcome. This regulatory activity of the therapist is emotion specific.