Therapists' interventions as a predictor of clients' emotional experience, self-understanding, and treatment outcomes

Hadar Fisher, Eshkol Rafaeli, Eran Bar-Kalifa, Jacques P. Barber, Nili Solomonov, Tuvia Peri, Dana Atzil-Slonim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Clients' emotional experience (EE) and self-understanding (SU) are two clients' processes thought to play a key role in many therapeutic approaches, especially psychodynamic (PD) psychotherapy. Previous studies exploring client processes and the interventions assumed to promote them have found that both processes and interventions are related to a reduction in symptoms. However, the complex associations between the use of specific interventions, clients' processes and symptomatic outcomes have rarely been investigated. Using data collected on a session-by-session basis, we explored (a) the temporal associations between clients' processes (EE and SU) and treatment outcomes (clients' level of functioning), (b) the associations between therapists' AF and PD interventions and clients' processes, and (c) the direct and indirect associations among therapists' interventions, clients' processes, and clients' functioning. Clients (N = 115) undergoing PD psychotherapy reported their general functioning presession using the Outcome Rating Scale, and their EE and SU postsession using the Emotional Experience Self-Report and Self-Understanding Scale, respectively. Therapists reported their use of interventions postsession using the Multitheoretical List of Interventions. Longitudinal multilevel models indicated that higher EE and SU scores predicted subsequent change in functioning. Moderate (vs. high or low) use of AF interventions predicted an increase in clients' EE. Greater use of PD interventions predicted an increase in clients' SU, which also mediated improvement in functioning. These findings highlight the importance of adjusting therapists' use of interventions to promote clients' therapeutic processes and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-78
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Emotional experience
  • Interventions
  • Self-understanding

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology


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