Begoña Rojí on Communication Skills for Therapists

Begoña Roji is a professor of psychology at the National University of Distance Education (UNED). She provides theoretical and practical training for therapists in communication skills.
Begoña Rojí on Communication Skills for Therapists
Laura Rodríguez

Written and verified by the psychologist Laura Rodríguez.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Begoña Rojí is a professor in the Department of Personality, Evaluation, and Psychological Treatments (Faculty of Psychology, UNED). The contributions she’s made to the practice of psychotherapy are reflected in her works. These are aimed at professionals in the field of psychology.

In her publications, she emphasizes the importance of a therapist’s communication skills in the field of clinical psychology. She also addresses questions such as what phenomena professionals should consider when thinking about the patient-therapist relationship.

Begoña Rojí and Raúl Cabastrero wrote Entrevista y sugestiones indirectas: entrenamiento para jóvenes psicoterapeutas ( Indirect Interviews and Suggestions: Communicative Training for Young Psychotherapists). This is a basic guide for professionals wanting to develop essential communication skills for the practice of clinical psychology. In this article, we’ll look at certain aspects of this book.

A client and therapist.

The therapeutic interview according to Begoña Rojí

The therapeutic interview is a procedure in psychotherapy. In this interview, the therapist observes and analyzes a patient’s behavior. Then, with the information they obtain, they establish an appropriate treatment for the patient.

According to Rojí, the therapeutic interview is built on communication between patient and therapist. In fact, it’s where the therapist learns about the patient’s problem and the surrounding context.

For this reason, the way the communication takes place between therapist and patient is extremely important. The techniques the therapist uses in the interview play a key role in the therapeutic process overall.

Begoña Rojí and verbal intervention techniques

Verbal communication refers to messages expressed in words. The therapeutic interview is based largely on the verbal expression of both therapist and patient.

Begoña Rojí suggests that what the therapist says influences the therapy. For this reason, actions like criticism, lecturing, accusations, or bombarding the patient with questions have a negative impact on the process as a whole.

The therapist can resort to diverse techniques to conduct interviews. In this sense, Rojí differentiates between directive or non-directive techniques. Directive techniques consist of all the verbal interventions of the therapist when the message is structured and planned in advance.

With directive techniques, the patient takes a passive role. One example of the directive technique is a questionnaire. This involves the therapist asking the patient directly about their problems. For example “What do you mean by that?”

On the other hand, Rojí states that non-directive techniques refer to the kind of intervention where the therapist actively listens and then makes some statements. They’ll vary depending on what the patient has said. Thus, the patient plays an active role in the therapy session.

One example of a non-directive technique is reflection. The therapist takes the emotional element of the client’s messages and turns them into statements. For example, “You felt sad at that time” or “That change frightened you”.

Non-verbal intervention

Non-verbal communication can be defined as communication not expressed by words but by body language. This refers to posture, facial expressions, and eye contact, among others.

During the therapeutic interview, the patient’s non-verbal communication provides an important source of information regarding their feelings and thoughts. In this sense, non-verbal communication is an expression of the self.

The meaning of non-verbal behavior varies from person to person and culture to culture. However, there’s some general consensus regarding its significance. In any case, the therapist always must analyze each patient individually to understand their situation.

Direct eye contact between patient and therapist indicates interest and desire for communication. However, a patient experiencing stiffness in their legs and arms could be a sign of tension. Perhaps they feel anxious talking about a particular topic, for example.

In the therapeutic relationship, not only the patient’s non-verbal behavior is important. Indeed, the therapist must pay equal attention to the messages they’re sending to the patient. In fact, the degree to which patients perceive their therapist as a professional greatly influences the outcome of the therapeutic process.

For this reason, the therapist needs to exercise some control and be aware of the non-verbal messages they’re sending. In addition, of course, to paying attention to those of the patient.

A client and therapist.

Interaction as a main factor

Your perception of others is a primary mechanism in every interaction you have. This is because, when two or more people meet, the most influential factor is how each one perceives the other.

For example, it’s likely that if you think of someone as being unpleasant, you won’t be that nice to them. On the other hand, if they seem okay, you’ll probably be nice.

For this reason, the therapist should consider how patients interact with them. They should also consider how they interact with their patients. Indeed, interpersonal perception between therapist and patient is extremely important. It predicts to what degree the therapy will be successful. Furthermore, it tends to uncover any problematic element in the interaction.

Begoña Rojí and her works

Begoña Rojí puts her own experience and professional training into her published works, where she shares practical exercises with examples from her daily life as a psychotherapist.

As we mentioned above, this article highlights some of the most relevant aspects of Rojí’s book that she wrote in collaboration with Cabastrero. In this book, they demonstrate both the practical and theoretical perspectives of everyday phenomena for all professionals in the field of psychology.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.