The Power of Subtle Interpersonal Hostility in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A Speech Acts Analysis
Taylor & Francis
This study compared participants' speech acts in low-hostile versus moderate-hostile interpersonal episodes in time-limited psychodynamic psychotherapy. Sixty-two cases from the Vanderbilt II psychotherapy project were categorized as low or moderate in interpersonal hostility based on ratings of interpersonal process using Structural Analysis of Social Behavior (Benjamin, 1996). Representative episodes were coded using a taxonomy of speech acts (Stiles, 1992), and speech acts were compared across low- and moderate-hostile episodes. Therapists in moderate-hostility episodes used more interpretations and edifications, and fewer questions and reflections. Patients in moderate-hostility episodes used more disclosures and fewer edifications. Content coding showed that therapist interpretations with a self/intrapsychic self focus were more characteristic of moderate-hostility than low-hostility episodes, whereas the two types of episodes contained similar levels of interpretations focused on the patient's interpersonal relationships and the therapeutic relationship.