The prevalence and characteristics of relational depth events in psychotherapy

Sue Wiggins, Robert Elliott, Mick Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We introduce two complementary measures of relational depth, defined as a state of profound contact and engagement between client and therapist. Using an internet-based survey of client and therapist accounts (n=342), judges rated relational depth as present in over a third of significant therapy event descriptions. Participants also completed the Relational Depth Inventory (RDI), for which we report reliability, validity and factor structure. Relational depth events were more likely to occur in the presence of strong therapeutic alliance, and with female participants, but client or therapist role and therapy duration were not related to relational depth content or RDI. RDI items for connectedness, love, respect and intimacy were most strongly associated with relational depth content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-58
Number of pages20
JournalPsychotherapy Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Empathy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Psychological Tests
  • Psychotherapeutic Processes
  • Psychotherapy
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors

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