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Gratitude in Psychotherapy with Older Clients

Volume 18, 2021, Nr. 2

Henning Freund:

Gratitude in Psychotherapy with Older Clients (Abstract)

In psychotherapeutic relationships older patients in particular tend to express gratitude, which influences the process and outcome of therapy. Looking at gratitude from a psychological perspective, it can be understood both as an emotion within a special situation (state) and a persistent life attitude (trait). Theories and empirical evidence concerning the meaning of gratitude in the lives of older people are presented. The meaning that gratitude can have for the older individual, likely to face chronic physical and depressive illness, is then investigated. To strengthen the client’s ability to experience gratitude some practical suggestions for the psychotherapeutical procedure are presented. In therapeutic relationships, though, the expression of gratitude may challenge the therapist’s closeness-distance regulation. With regard to these potential »side effects« the special impact of the older client’s gratitude on his socio-emotional status and the psychotherapy process is discussed.