Comparison of the stylistic complexity of the language of counselor and client across three theoretical orientations

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Using data generated from a computer-assisted language analysis system, and excerpts from 2 different time periods in each interview from the film series Three Approaches to Psychotherapy, the stylistic complexity of the language of counselor and client was compared. The analysis indicated that the counselors were significantly different from one another on 4 dependent measures of stylistic complexity: number of sentences, average sentence length, average block length, and average clause depth. The differences were commensurate with expectations derived from each theoretical approach. The client's stylistic complexity also differed significantly on the 4 measures across the 3 interviews. Moreover, by comparing the data within each interview from Time 1 and Time 2, evidence for concerted action was found. Results support and raise questions about the potency of interpersonal influence in counseling, the effect of the theoretical approach on the language by which counseling is conducted, and speculations about how counselor and client establish the ground rules for treatment. (18 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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