Training in psychotherapy: a call for embodied and psychophysiological approaches

  • Alessandro Gennaro Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, “La Sapienza” University of Rome, Italy.
  • Johann Roland Kleinbub Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Education and Applied Psychology, University of Padua, Italy.
  • Stefania Mannarini Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Education and Applied Psychology, University of Padua, Italy.
  • Sergio Salvatore Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, “La Sapienza” University of Rome, Italy.
  • Arianna Palmieri | arianna.palmieri@unipd.it Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Education and Applied Psychology, University of Padua; Padua Neuroscience Center, University of Padua, Italy.

Abstract

Psychotherapy research studies are increasingly focused on the clinical process, which has allowed for the definition of general models about clinical functioning and the role of the therapist. Embodiment-based research has shown that interpersonal processes, such as synchrony and attunement, are critical for the development of crucial therapist skills and that these mechanisms are mediated by physiological processes. Although the connection between these embodied processes and clinical practice is currently a topic of investigation in psychotherapy research, its implications for clinical training are potentially broad, but they remain unexplored. The present contribution proposes the idea of embodied trainings for psychotherapy trainees, which could support their acquisition of clinical skills through implicit, embodied, and affective learning. We present detailed potential mechanisms, study designs, and psychological variables that could be used to develop such an in vivo training and suggest some possible applications, ranging from biofeedback sessions to experimental settings and roleplaying. Additional research in this field can help bridge the gap between psychotherapy research and psychotherapy training, by overcoming some of the limitations of post-session and external evaluations, by enriching psychotherapy training programs, and by facilitating the implicit and automatic attunement of the attitudes of the students who will become tomorrow’s therapists.

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Published
2019-12-19
Section
Special Section: The role of psychotherapy research in psychotherapy training: mutual influences and relations
Keywords:
Clinical training; Embodiment; Process research; Psychotherapy
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How to Cite
Gennaro, A., Kleinbub, J., Mannarini, S., Salvatore, S., & Palmieri, A. (2019). Training in psychotherapy: a call for embodied and psychophysiological approaches. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 22(3). https://doi.org/10.4081/ripppo.2019.395