Therapists discuss the role of emotion in helping clients

    How are therapists supposed to handle their clients’ emotions? Does helping them mean keeping a distance, and calmly guiding them through what they are feeling? And how do therapists handle their own emotions as they watch a client struggle?

    In their weekly conversation, WHYY’s Behavioral health reporter Maiken Scott and psychologist Dan Gottlieb discuss the therapy field’s emerging views on emotion.

    Their conversation was inspired by the current issue of the magazine “Psychotherapy Networker”, which is dedicated to the topic of emotions in therapy.

    “Psychotherapists are supposed to be able to handle emotions—particularly the unpleasant, out-of-control, negative emotions exhibited by their clients,” writes editor Rich Simon.  “For much of our field’s history, we’ve pretended that while clients might be overcome with emotion, it’s our role to transcend those volatile, moment-to-moment perturbations that are at the heart of the therapeutic connection.”

    Dan Gottlieb discusses the role of emotions in therapy sessions, and how his own emotions come into play — and sometimes get in the way — of guiding a client.

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