Client levels of emotional experiencing in individual and conjoint therapy sessions

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Texas Tech University

Despite numerous studies comparing individual and conjoint therapy, there has been no research that looks at the differences between the modalities. Research has found that emotional experiencing is an essential element in the therapeutic process. This exploratory study examines the level of emotional experiencing in clients in individual and couple sessions. There were 20 people that participated in the study, not necessarily married to each other. Each participant was involved in an individual and conjoint session with his or her spouse, and three segments were selected from each session. Each segment had two scores, the modal and peak level of experiencing. The levels of experiencing were measured using the Patient Experiencing Scale (Klein, Matheiu, Gendlin & Keisler, 1969), which is an ordinal scale ranging from one to seven. It was hypothesized that levels of experiencing would be higher in individual sessions than in couple sessions. It was also hypothesized that the levels of experiencing would increase across segment and that there would be no difference in the level of experiencing between gender. The findings indicated that experiencing was higher in individual than couple sessions for both modal and peak scores. The results also showed that levels of experiencing did not increase across segment, and that there were no differences in levels of experiencing between genders. These findings suggest that therapists need to focus more on the emotional experiencing of clients, the importance of considering the use of individual therapy with couples, and focusing more on increasing the level of emotional experiencing in couple therapy sessions.

Language and emotions, Marital psychotherapy, Expression