Nonverbal Behavior in Clinical Settings

Nonverbal Behavior in Clinical Settings

Nonverbal Behavior in Clinical Settings

Nonverbal Behavior in Clinical Settings

Synopsis

During the past 25 years, the study of nonverbal behaviour has become a significant subarea of psychology. Employing a variety of approaches and encompassing numerous perspectives, researchers have made important theoretical and empirical strides in discovering the origins, functions, and consequences of nonverbal behaviour. This research has clearly shown that nonverbal behaviour plays a far greater role than merely reflecting emotional experience - it also plays a central role in psychological adaptation. This volume presents, in an integrated framework, contemporary perspectives on the role of nonverbal behaviour in psychological regulation, adaptation, and psychopathology, and includes both empirical and theoretical research that is central to our understanding of the reciprocal influences between nonverbal behaviour, psychopathology, and therapeutic processes. It has several objectives: One is to present fundamental theories and data relevant to researchers and clinicians working in such fields as psychopathology and psychotherapy. Another objective is to link contributions of basic research to clinical applications. Finally, the volume gathers contributions in different sub-fields that are rarely presented jointly, such as brain damage and non-verbal skills.

Excerpt

The pioneers in psychiatry and clinical psychology believed that emotion plays a central role in pathology and that emotions are most directly and truthfully expressed through the face, voice, and body. Reflecting this, they recommended that in diagnosis and therapy nonverbal behavior should be treated as a valuable sign of a patient's affective state. Subsequent research on nonverbal communication has shown that these intuitions are correct and that attention to nonverbal cues is extremely important in interacting with emotionally disturbed individuals. Nonetheless, for all practical purposes, therapy in clinical settings has continued to focus on the verbal rather than the nonverbal. There are many reasons for the continued prevalence of the verbal in therapy, including the intellectual influence of psychoanalysis and cognitive therapies, the ease of obtaining verbal reports, the need to classify behaviors and feelings into semantic categories, and the amount of effort and time required to observe and interpret nonverbal behavior. This situation is about to change, as the explosion of research on emotion has finally reached the clinic.

In this volume, leading scholars in the area present research that provides a foundation for understanding and using nonverbal behavior to measure and modify patients' feelings and behavior. Their chapters describe the mechanisms underlying the nonverbal expression of emotion, the role of nonverbal behavior in regulatory and clinical processes, the effects of negative life events and personality dispositions on expressing and inferring, nonverbal behavior patterns in specific clinical disorders, and the interpretation of nonverbal behavior in different clinical populations. These contributions provide pointers for methodologies appropriate in clinical settings and outline the practical significance of placing more emphasis on nonverbal behavior in clinical settings.

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