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Women articulate their psychological state better than men during therapy


Researchers re-examine how men and women differ by rating how patients talk and their figures of speech

Women are better at articulating their psychological state during therapy, according to new research by Serge Lecours, a professor at the Université de Montréal’s Department of Psychology.

While previous studies have examined how men and women verbalize differently, Lecours stresses his findings are different.

How? With colleagues Natali Sanlian and Marc-André Bouchard, Lecours developed a new test called the Grille de l’Élaboration Verbale des Affects, or the GEVA (verbal elaboration chart), to evaluate patients on their speech.

“Until now, most studies limited themselves to measuring the ability to articulate emotions,“ explains Lecours, who published his findings in the Bulletin of the Meninger Clinic. ”Thanks to the GEVA test, our study takes it a step further by looking at how we talk or speak"

For this study, Lecours and his team interviewed 18 female and 18 male patients. Subjects ranged from 21 to 48 in age and were patients at the Allan Memorial Institute in Montreal. Fifty percent of subjects were Francophone, while the remaining half was Anglophone.

Interviews lasted an hour and started with the question: “What made you want to pursue psychotherapy?”

Specialists then analyzed the speech of the patients using the GEVA. The scale has five levels and it factors in four distinct ways of expressing emotion: somatization, motivity, imagery and verbalization.

According to the GEVA, someone who expresses anger violently (road rage for example) will be a “Motor 1” while a “Verbal 5” will make sense of his or her emotions and will connect them to a childhood trauma.

Between these two extremes are ‘Psychsomatic 1,” which is someone who will have a panic attack while users of imagery will use metaphors (“I saw blue, I saw red”) to express their state of mind. Francophones were more inclined to use this method than Anglophones.

Lecours says that the GEVA test can help therapists predict the development of mental problems in patients. He plans to use the GEVA test in subsequent research to examine the verbal elaboration of affect in individuals, for instance, who suffer from borderline personality disorder.


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