Conceptualisation and Measurement of Reflective Process in Psychotherapy: A Systematic Scoping Review

Publication Name

Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy


Psychological therapies use talk as a means to produce change for individuals who are experiencing distress. Despite a significant body of research comparing approaches, there is little evidence for the superiority of one model over another. The process of reflection has been suggested as a common factor across modalities, and research aiming to measure this phenomenon is emerging. This scoping review is focussed on the conceptualisations, measurement and process outcomes of reflective talk as it occurs during therapy. Twenty-two studies were selected from a total of 3712 papers identified following a systematic search of SCOPUS, MEDLINE, PsychINFO and Web of Science databases. A variety of descriptors emerged: intrapersonal constructs such as mentalization and metacognition tended to view reflectivity as an individually acquired skill or trait, where other descriptors adopted an interpersonal understanding of reflection as co-constructed through dialogue. Our findings suggest a shift from individual to intersubjective understandings of reflecting processes in therapy may be a valuable area for future research.

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