Background: Therapist’s emotional reactions toward patients in clinical facilities are a key concept in the treatment of personality disorders. Considering only clinical settings specialized in treatment of personality pathology the present paper aimed at: (1) assessing any direct relationship between patient symptom severity and therapist emotional response; (2) exploring patients’ functioning configurations that can be associated with specific therapist reactions (3) investigating whether these relationships remains significant when accounting for other setting variables related to patients or therapist. Methods: The present study included 43 outpatients with personality disorders who underwent a psychotherapy treatment in two Italian facilities dedicated to outpatients with personality disorders and their 19 psychotherapists. The Symptom Checklist-90-Revised (SCL-90R) was used to explore clinical severity condition. Psychotherapists completed the Therapist Response Questionnaire (TRQ) to identify pattern of therapists’ response and the Shedler-Westen Assessment Procedure-200 (SWAP-200) in order to assess personality traits of the patients. Results: No significant relationship between the clinical severity of the symptoms and the therapist’ responses was found. Even when controlled for clinical severity condition, duration of the treatment, age and educational level of the patient or years of therapist experience, most of SWAP-200 traits appeared to be significant predictors of therapist’ emotional responses. Conclusions: The present study confirms the value of therapists’ emotional response as a useful tool in understanding psychological processes related to clinical practice highlighting its context-dependent dimension.
- Emotion in therapy
- Personality Disorders
- Personality disorders
- Professional-Patient Relations