Reinforcement matters: A preliminary, laboratory-based component-process analysis of Functional Analytic Psychotherapy's model of social connection


Kevin Haworth, Jonathan W. Kanter, Mavis Tsai, Adam M. Kuczynski, James R. Rae & Robert J. Kohlenberg


A therapeutic model of social connection derived from Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP) that applies to both the client’s outside-of-therapy relationships and the psychotherapeutic relationship is explored in two studies. The model integrates established behavioral principles with existing research on the reciprocal process of self-disclosure and responsiveness that occurs during development of intimate relationships to highlight a promising therapeutic process. In this process, self-disclosure (“courage” in FAP’s model) is evoked by the therapist and then reinforced with therapeutic responsiveness (“love” in the FAP model) resulting in improved self-disclosure and more connectedness in the therapy and other relationships. Study 1 included a sample of 77 undergraduate participants who self-disclosed responses to a series of closeness generating questions to undergraduate research assistants trained in responsiveness. Findings indicated that social connection increased following this full procedure. Study 2 included a sample of 99 undergraduate participants and provided evidence that the responsiveness of the research assistant is key to promoting increased feelings of connectedness and also improves the depth of disclosure.

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