Hand Rest Positions of patients with social phobia and therapists in psychodynamic psychotherapy sessions (SOPHO-NET project)

Niklas Neumann, Irina Kreyenbrink, Katharina Reinecke, Hedda Lausberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Patients with social phobia show specific non-verbal behaviour pattern during psychotherapy sessions. As hand rest positions reveal openness to rapport in social interactions, this study takes a look at this type of nonverbal behaviour. Videos of 10 patient-therapist dyads at the beginning and end of psychodynamic psychotherapies were analyzed with the Rest Position category of the NEUROGES-ELAN system. Three different types of rest positions (open, closed, and crossed) were compared. Patients performed significantly more and shorter rest positions than therapists. They displayed crossed rest positions more frequently, as well as shorter closed and open rest positions. Between beginning and end of therapy, no significant differences in rest positions were found. The study revealed a higher restlessness in patients. The patients’ preference for crossed rest position is likely to reflect their fear to expose themselves to the social situation. As rest positions didn’t change over time, they appear to be a rather state-independent non-verbal behaviour with a high intra-individual reliability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-55
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Multimodal Communication Studies
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • nonverbal behavior
  • emotions
  • hand rest positions
  • psychotherapies
  • therapists
  • patients
  • social phobia

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