Psychology ETDs

Publication Date



Empathy is the state of knowing or being aware of another persons perspective and the ability to express empathy is acknowledged as an important component within effective psychotherapy. Motivational interviewing (MI) is a specific method of psychotherapy in which clinician expressions of empathy are held to be an active ingredient and a central component of effective practice. Although empathy has long been a part of the theoretical explanation of effective MI, there is little known about the function of empathy as expressed by the clinician and the association between such in-session speech and client change language. This study identified the empathic speech of clinicians and explored the association of such speech with client change language. The study found that frequencies of empathic speech shared a significant positive correlation with client change talk as well as client sustain talk. This correlation between empathic speech and change talk was mediated by several clinician variables, such as MI-consistent behaviors and clinician reflections of client change talk. Similarly, the relationship between empathic speech and client sustain talk was mediated by reflections of client sustain talk.

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Level of Degree


Department Name


First Advisor

Moyers, Theresa

First Committee Member (Chair)

McCrady, Barbara

Second Committee Member

Tonigan, Scott




Motivational interviewing, Empathy.

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