A new study explores the use of language style matching (LSM) in psychotherapy to operationalize an implicit aspect of the therapeutic alliance. LSM, which measures the similarity of rates of function words in dyadic interactions, is believed to reflect how well conversational partners coordinate language styles to achieve a common goal.
The researchers analyzed psychotherapy data from seven long-term psychoanalytic treatments to demonstrate the clinical usefulness of the LSM approach. The study found that LSM might tap into an implicit aspect of the therapeutic relationship that is different from the working alliance measured by observers and is relevant for treatment outcome.
The authors suggest that LSM may be a time-efficient and objective method of analyzing the therapeutic alliance. They call for larger-scale psychotherapy studies to investigate the relationship between these implicit aspects of the alliance and treatment outcome, as well as the variables that are relevant for clients and therapists. This study suggests that verbal authenticity influences person perception and manifests naturally through verbal data.