In sync with your shrink: Grounding psychotherapy in interpersonal synchrony

Sander L. Koole, Dana Atzil-Slonim, Emily Butler, Suzanne Dikker, Wolfgang Tschacher, Tom Wilderjans

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The working relationship between patient and therapist is a core aspect of psychotherapy. In this chapter, the authors consider how the therapeutic relationship may be explained by the basic social-psychological mechanism of interpersonal synchrony, defined as the temporal coordination of patient’s and therapist’s mutual behavioral, physiological, and neurological functions. Part 1 reviews clinical-psychological research on psychotherapy. Part 2 discusses social-psychological research on interpersonal synchrony and its relevance to the therapeutic relationship. Part 3 integrates the clinical- and social-psychological literatures in the INterpersonal SYNChrony (IN-SYNC) model of psychotherapy (Koole & Tschacher, 2016). Part 4 reviews empirical research on the IN-SYNC model. Part 5 summarizes the authors’ main conclusions and considers the broader implications of this work. The authors conclude that interpersonal synchrony has much promise as a basic social-psychology mechanism that may help us to understand how psychotherapy works.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationApplications of Social Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationHow Social Psychology Can Contribute to the Solution of Real-World Problems
EditorsJoseph P. Forgas, William D. Crano, Klaus Fiedler
PublisherTaylor and Francis AS
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781000036619
ISBN (Print)9780367418328
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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