Brain synchronization during psychological counseling.

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Experience-dependent counselor-client brain synchronization during psychological counseling.

The role of the counselor’s experience in building an alliance with the clients remains controversial. Recently, the expanding nascent studies on interpersonal brain synchronization (IBS) using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) on human subjects have hinted at the possible neural substrates underlying the relationship qualities between the counselor-client dyads. Our study assessed the clients’ self-report working alliance (WA) as well as simultaneously measured IBS by fNIRS in 14 experienced vs. 16 novice counselor-client dyads during the first integrative-orientation psychological counseling session. We observed that synchronous brain activity patterns were elicited from the right temporo-parietal junction across counselor-client dyads. Furthermore, such IBS, together with alliance quality, was especially evident when counselors had more psychotherapy experience. Time-lagged counselor-client brain synchronization might co-vary with the alliance (goal component) when the client’s brain activity preceded that of the counselor. These findings favor the notion that the IBS between counselor-client associated with the WA is an experience-dependent phenomenon, suggesting that a potential adaptive mechanism is embedded in psychological counseling.

PMID: 32878962 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

eNeuro. 2020 Sep 02;:

Authors: Zhang Y, Meng T, Yang Y, Hu Y