Sharing of figurative language themes in expert therapy: occurrence and effect on client experiencing and therapeutic bond
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The purpose of this study was to examine the use and effect of figurative language discourse in examples of expert therapy. More specifically, one of the main reasons for conducting this study was to describe figurative language discourse, its production, use, and potential effects on the therapeutic relationship and client experiencing. Training videos were selected and transcribed using criteria for selection of examples of expert therapy. Fifty-six excerpts, each two-minutes in length, were taken from the transcribed therapy sessions and used for the analyses. One set of raters was trained to identify instances of figurative language and make ratings of shared theme. Another set of raters was trained to use the Experiencing Scales and the Working Alliance Inventory on the transcribed excerpts. Analyses were conducted to investigate the frequency of use and relationship between therapist and client figurative language dialogue. Results indicated that the majority of figurative language used in examples of expert therapy is metaphoric in nature. Additionally, it was found that the majority of figures of speech were frozen in meaning or were commonly used. A small percentage of figures of speech were shared conceptually between the therapist and the client. Regarding the shared figurative language, a statistically significant difference between therapists and clients with regard to their production of shared figurative language was found and indicates that use of shared figurative language by expert therapists may be a subtle and indirect way in which therapeutic alliance is initially established as well as maintained. It may also represent how expert therapists follow content of the therapy session. In addition, a regression analysis conducted to determine if there is a relationship between shared figurative language and ratings of therapeutic alliance did not meet statistical significance. Overall, the results of this study provide preliminary findings with regard to what type of figures of speech expert therapists use and give a clear direction in terms of the next direction for research. Additionally, this experiment provides direction for the type of methodology that should be utilized in future research.
Cardin, Scott Ashley (2005). Sharing of figurative language themes in expert therapy: occurrence and effect on client experiencing and therapeutic bond. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from