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Communication of Affect in Family Therapy

Graham Berman, MB, FRCP(C)
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;17(2):154-158. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730260026004.
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AN IMPORTANT PART of the process of psychotherapy is the patient's communication of information about affect to the therapist. It has been shown that there is appreciable agreement among independent observers on differentiation and quantification of affect.1 But the processes by which the therapist becomes aware of the patient's feelings are complex, and not well understood.

A discussion by a group of therapists produced the following list of methods through which they thought they might become aware of a speaker's feelings during family therapy. (Underlying assumptions are that the speaker may be unaware of his affect, and that the dialogue is not usually a direct attempt to communicate affect to the therapist.)

1. The exact meaning of the words indicates the speaker's feelings.

2. Metaphor or other conventionally accepted meaning of the words indicates the feelings.

3. The tone of voice

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