Could neurofeedback improve therapist-patient communication? Considering the potential for neuroscience informed examinations of the psychotherapeutic relationship


Empathic communication between a patient and therapist is an essential component of psychotherapy. However, finding objective neural markers of the quality of the psychotherapeutic relationship have been elusive. Here we conceptualize how a neuroscience-informed approach involving real-time neurofeedback, facilitated via existing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) technologies, could provide objective information for facilitating therapeutic rapport. We propose several neurofeedback-assisted psychotherapy (NF-AP) approaches that could be studied as a way to optimize the experience of the individual patient and therapist across the spectrum of psychotherapeutic treatment. Finally, we consider how the possible strengths of these approaches are balanced by their current limitations and discuss the future prospects of NF-AP.

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