Psychology Colloquium: “Are You in the Mood: Does Therapist Affect Influence Psychotherapy Process?”

Posted on 10/28/2015 7:47:04 AM

Tsz-Yeung Harold Chui will discuss the role of therapist emotions in the work of therapy on October 30, 2015, at 3:30 p.m. in 111 Uhler Hall.

What makes psychotherapy work? Recent advances in psychotherapy process and outcome research have pointed to the contribution of therapist factors to variability in patient outcome. Most studies to date have examined therapist trait variables (e.g., sex, experience, attachment style) and their relations to patient outcome, but few investigators have looked at the role of therapist state variables. As most therapists would attest, some of their sessions are better than others, even when they are working with the same patients. This calls for a closer look at therapist factors that fluctuate over time.

An understudied therapist state variable is affect. Affective science has laid the foundation for therapists to understand patients’ emotional functioning. Yet, how therapists’ affective states are related to the psychotherapy process is unclear. Chui's study showed that therapists who started sessions with more positive affect had better patient ratings of session and working alliance, whereas therapists who began sessions with more negative affect had worse patient ratings of session and working alliance. Further research is needed to clarify how therapist affect influences therapist responses and perception of patient concerns.  

In the second part of the presentation, Chui will provide an overview of  other research interests and plans. In particular, Chui will highlight research on peer relationships in the graduate training environment, and the development of a measure of non-symptomatic change in psychotherapy. 

Chui received a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Maryland in 2014. He is currently working as a postdoctoral research fellow and adjunct professor at Adelphi University in New York. He is a candidate for an assistant professor position in the Psychology Department.