The importance of interpersonal communication in coaching / psychotherapy


“Despite doctors having a central role in performing a patient-centered and collaborative consultation, studies show that physicians still tend not to involve their patients.” – Goss, Rimondi

I think that interpersonal communication in psychotherapy (or coaching) is important not only for establishing a trustful relationship allowing for full transparency and improved information gathering (and therefore for more accurate diagnosis) but also for making the patient more receptive to the continuous psychological treatment. Good interpersonal communication is likely to increase the efficacy of the therapeutic relationship. In contrast, when a patient is reluctant and disagreeing in the therapeutic process, his adherence to the therapy may decrease. It is natural for patients to wish to be involved in the consultations with a therapist for decision-making purposes. Rimondi (2011) presents existing systems (including assessment tools) for the analysis of therapist-patient verbal and non-verbal communication in psychotherapy. “Despite doctors having a central role in performing a patient-centered and collaborative consultation, studies show that physicians still tend not to involve their patients (Goss et al. 2007a, b)” (cited in Rimondi, 2011, p. 77). Therefore, although it seems almost too obvious, education in interpersonal communication, which is part of patient-centricity and constitutes a fundamental primacy of a truly biopsychosocial approach, shouldn’t be neglected in any case.

As a further idea, if there is shame involved in exposing personal information, the use of paper or electronic questionnaires may be complementary means to facilitate the information gathering process.

An interesting follow-on discussion would be if somebody had own experience or knowledge regarding the assessment of therapeutic communication. For example, when should a therapeutic relationship (as a response to assessment) be changed in what way? And when would change even mean the dissolution of the relationship and referral to another therapist?



Rimondini, M. (2011). Communication in cognitive behavioral therapy. New York, NY, US: Springer Science + Business Media. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-6807-4

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About mathias sager

PSYCHOLOGIST and Independent Researcher I'm born in Zurich and grew up in Switzerland. For many years I lived in Tokyo, and also in Pune/India. I'm passionate about developing human potential, which is an overarching theme throughout all my work that is based on research and supported by intuition and art. Through teaching, counseling, and leading indivuals and teams around the world my goal is to inspire with interdisciplinary, innovative, and cross-cultural approaches to personal and professional development for individual well-being and the common good alike. Happy if you reach me on, connect on social media, or email directly to Developing human potential is my passion! - Independent Awareness Intelligence Research (mathias sager - Psychology, global) - MSc in Psychology (University of Liverpool) - Postgraduate in Conflict Management, Leadership and Crisis Communication (University of Applied Sciences Winterthur, Switzerland) - Executive Master in Business Administration (EMBA, iimt Fribourg, Switzerland) - Bachelor in Education Sciences (Switzerland)