Reinforcement Matters: A preliminary, Laboratory-Based Component-Process Analysis of Functional Analytic Psychotherapy's Model of Social Connection


A therapeutic model of social connection derived from Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP) that applies to both the client’s outside-of-therapy relationships and the psychotherapeutic relationship is explored in two studies. The model integrates established behavioral principles with existing research on the reciprocal process of self-disclosure and responsiveness that occurs during development of intimate relationships to highlight a promising therapeutic process. In this process, self-disclosure (courage in FAP’s model) is evoked by the therapist and then reinforced with therapeutic responsiveness (love in the FAP model) resulting in improved self-disclosure and more connectedness in the therapy and other relationships. Study 1 included a sample of 77 undergraduate participants who self-disclosed responses to a series of closeness generating questions to undergraduate research assistants trained in responsiveness. Findings indicated that social connection increased following this full procedure. Study 2 included a sample of 99 undergraduate participants and provided evidence that the responsiveness of the research assistant is key to promoting increased feelings of connectedness and also improves the depth of disclosure.

Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science.