Talk Nerdy To Me’s @StaffWriter:
When we think of psychologists and body language, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the way someone sits or stands. But body language is so much more than that. It includes everything from facial expressions to gestures to posture. What body language do psychologists look for?
Let’s talk about it.
7 Body Language Cues Psychologists Look For
Psychologists are trained to look for certain cues in their clients’ body language. By reading these cues, they can gain insight into their clients’ feelings and thoughts.
Here are 7 body language cues that psychologists look for in their clients.
1) Body Language: Facial Expressions
Psychologists have long been interested in the connection between facial expressions and inner emotions. A person’s facial expressions can reveal a great deal about how they are feeling, and this information can be invaluable in treatment.
For example, a client who frequently scowls or furrows their brow is likely experiencing a great deal of stress or anxiety. On the other hand, a client who frequently smiles and laughs is likely to be feeling happy and content. By paying close attention to their clients’ facial expressions, psychologists can gain invaluable insights into their emotional states. This information can then be used to tailor treatment and help clients achieve their goals.
2) Body Language: Eye Contact
Psychologists generally look for two things when it comes to eye contact: engagement and avoidance. Eye contact is important for developing rapport and trust, both of which are essential for effective therapy.
However, some clients may avoid eye contact out of shame, guilt, or fear. In these cases, it is often necessary to explore the reasons for avoidance before any therapeutic progress can be made. On the other hand, direct and sustained eye contact can be seen as a sign of confidence or trust. It may also indicate that the client is interested in what the psychologist has to say. Ultimately, eye contact is just one of many nonverbal cues that psychologists take into account when assessing a client’s state of mind.
3) Body Language: Posture
A client’s posture can be an important cue for psychologists. Slumped shoulders may suggest sadness or defeat, while erect posture may signal alertness or readiness to engage.
In general, analysts look for three things in a client’s posture: symmetry, support, and density. Symmetry refers to the overall balance of the body. A balanced posture indicates a person who is comfortable and at ease, while an unbalanced posture may suggest a person who is tense or nervous.
Support refers to the way in which the body is supported by the legs and feet. A firm foundation indicates a person who is stable and confident, while a lack of support may suggest a person who is uncertain or unsteady.
Finally, density refers to the way in which the body fills space. A bulky or widespread posture suggests a person who might be open and more comfortable, while a smaller posture suggests a person who is less confident and open. By paying attention to these cues, psychologists can gain valuable insights into their clients’ inner states.
4) Body Language: Gestures
One of the things that psychologists look for in their client’s gestures is whether the client is closed off or open.
Common gestures like crossing one’s arms or legs may indicate defensiveness or anxiety, while more expansive gestures like spreading out one’s arms may suggest openness or trustworthiness. Another thing psychologists look at is the appropriateness of the gesture. For example, a client who is telling a story about a tragedy may use hand gestures to emphasize the emotional impact of the event, while a client who is lying is likely to avoid eye contact and might fidget or play with their hands.
Don’t Forget … The arms and legs
Arms and legs are a useful medium to communicate nonverbal info. Cross-arm movement indicates defensive behavior. Crossing the legs off someone could indicate a lack of respect or discomfort for a person or something else. Other subtle signals extending the shoulders or arms may seem more commanding or large, but keeping your arms close may help you minimize yourself or distract you a lot.
5) Body Language: Touch
When we think about touch, we often think about the physical act of touching something. However, touch is much more than just a physical sensation. It is also a powerful form of communication.
Psychologists who work with clients take this into account when observing their clients’ nonverbal communication. One of the things they look for is different kinds of touch. For example, they might look for the number of times when a client touches their face or hair. This can be a sign of anxiety or nervousness which is a reflection on their mental health.
They might also look for times when a client touches themselves in a self-comforting way, such as hugging themselves. Touch can also be used in a more aggressive way, such as jabbing a finger or miming violence.
In addition to looking at the kinds of touch a client uses, psychologists also look at the pace of touching. In other words, how often they touch themselves or others.
6) Body Language: Tone of Voice
When you visit a psychologist, they will likely spend a lot of time talking to you about how you’re feeling. They may ask you about your family life, your work life, and any recent stressors in your life. But what you may not realize is that they are also paying close attention to the way you talk. The tone of your voice can provide valuable insights into your mental state, and it can be an important part of diagnosis and treatment.
Psychologists look for changes in the pitch, volume, and rhythm of your voice as indicators of your emotional state. If you are feeling sad or depressed, your voice may sound flat or monotone. If you are feeling anxious or stressed, your voice may sound high-pitched or shaky. And if you are experiencing mania or psychosis, your voice may become loud and erratic. By listening to the way you talk, psychologists can gain valuable insights into your thoughts and emotions.
In addition to changes in pitch, volume, and rhythm, psychologists also look for changes in the rate of speech as an indicator of emotional state. If you are feeling depressed, you may speak slowly and lethargically. If you are feeling anxious, you may speak quickly and agitatedly.
7) Body Language: Feet
Feet are closely linked to our sense of balance, and they are also one of the most expressive parts of our bodies.
As a result, they can tell us a lot about a person’s state of mind. For example, someone who is feeling anxious or stressed may start to tap their foot uncontrollably. Alternatively, someone who is feeling embarrassed may start to shuffle their feet uncomfortably. By paying close attention to our feet, psychologists can glean important insights into our inner thoughts and feelings.