Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication in Psychotherapy

Gill Westland (Author)

Overview | Contents

Implicit communications analyzed alongside verbal communication in therapy.

Body language, facial expression, and tone of voice are key components in therapeutic interactions, but for far too long psychotherapists have dismissed them in favor of purely verbal information.

In Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication in Psychotherapy, Gill Westland examines the interrelation of the verbal and the non-verbal in the context of clients and therapists working together. The physiology of communication is also discussed: from overwhelming emotions that make it difficult to speak to breath awareness that makes it easier. Therapists will be able to cultivate non-verbal communication through mindfulness practices and “right brain to right brain communication.” It is not just the client’s actions and emotions that are significant; it is important that therapists relate in a way that makes it clear to their clients that they are receptive and inviting, and Westland expertly depicts the bodily dimensions of this encounter between client and therapist.

The book brings together insights from a range of psychotherapeutic traditions, including psychoanalysis, arts psychotherapies, humanistic psychotherapy, and, in particular, body psychotherapy, for clinicians who want to expand their communication abilities. Drawing on 30 years of clinical experience, and providing illustrative clinical vignettes, Westland has written a guide both for those who might not have any experience in the theory of non-verbal communications and for lifelong psychotherapy practitioners. She lays as groundwork recent research into the neurobiology of interaction and the foundations of non-verbal communication in babyhood, continuing throughout from a bodymind perspective that pays due attention to the physicality of the body. Westland urges therapists to learn how to leave their comfort zone and try new ways of helping their clients. Writing in a richly evocative, lucid language, Westland seeks to bring about change in both psychotherapist and client as they navigate both the verbal and non-verbal aspects of embodied relating.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • August 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-393-70924-7
  • 6.5 × 9.6 in / 320 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“[A] marvelous and useful book . . . . The author’s take on nonverbal communication is beyond the usual approaches and is not explained in NLP, or any other book on nonverbal communication that I’ve read. . . . [S]he is clearly teaching an approach that can turbo charge psychotherapy.” — The Milton H. Erickson Foundation Newsletter

“I was fascinated by the data, experientials and practices, character descriptions, and clinical applications. There’s something for anyone involved in mental health care . . . [I]nformative, instructive, and interesting. . . . The concepts were at times familiar and at times an eye opener, a balance that allows me to breathe into the material and make sense of it all. . . . I highly recommend this as a textbook for newcomers to the field and suggest it as adjunct reading for those who have been involved in the field for many years.” — Somatic Psychotherapy Today

“The clear structure of the book is easy to navigate, with cogent definitions of the concepts used and a useful glossary of terminology at the end. Overall, this book offers a sound introduction to the notion of integrating non-verbal processes into psychotherapy practice and is a useful reference for practitioners wanting to bring non-verbal practices into their work as relational therapists.” — Therapy Today

“In her new book, Westland shows us how to move clients toward increased wholeness. She also provides a foundation from which to understand both the verbal and non-verbal processes that may pave the way. . . . [A] wonderful guide.” — PsychCentral

“Gill Westland has deftly translated difficult concepts from neuroscience and psychotherapy into an accessible manual for psychotherapists of all degrees and disciplines. Among the many strengths herein are a large collection of illustrative examples that bring the academic material to life and make it immediately relatable as well as applicable. A must read for anyone working in the helping professions.” — Babette Rothschild, MSW, LCSW, author of The Body Remembers and 8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery

“Gill Westland’s book is a breakthrough in its integration of so many aspects of our work as psychotherapists. Westland takes us on a journey through neurobiology and prenatal and infant sensory development as a basis for our understanding of being with the self and clients in an embodied, sensory-aware manner. The therapist’s ability to orient to verbal and non-verbal communication with clarity and differentiation is so important in the client’s healing process, yet so subtle to develop. Westland presents the nuances of these inter-relationships in such well-defined and heartfelt ways that this book is a milestone in clarity and compassion that I can highly recommend to all.” — Franklyn Sills, MA, UKCP, ACCP, RCST, Co-Director of the Karuna Institute, author of Being and Becoming: Psychodynamics, Buddhism, and The Origins of Selfhood

“How are our desires, wishes, and strong emotions embodied, communicated, processed, and understood, especially when words are unavailable or avoided? Gill Westland’s clear, readable, and innovative text provides new insights into the non-verbal world for all psychotherapists. The book finds a balance between theory and practice, taking us right into the body psychotherapy session, while also linking thinking and interpretation to neuroscience, psychotherapeutic theory, and artistic and embodied communication. The importance of noticing unspoken communications is vividly described, and will help us all—psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, body psychotherapists, art therapists, and other practitioners alike—to improve our practice.” — Dr. Helen Odell-Miller, Professor of Music Therapy, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK

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