A Conceptualization of Therapeutic Communication: The WHAT Model

  • Gary Mihalyi Szirony Walden University
  • Jason D. Kushner University of Arkansas Little Rock
Keywords: Therapeutic Communication, Counselor Education, Communication Process, Communication, Counseling, Psychotherapy


Communication forms a major component of the therapeutic process.  With words serving as a primary medium, the process of communication during counseling or psychotherapy may be represented by the four-phase model presented the present study.  In an effort to teach counseling technique, alleviate initial counseling session tension, as well as potentially increase counseling process efficacy and flow across theories, the WHAT Model is presented.  In order to empirically test the viability of the WHAT Model in a therapeutic environment, Brief Counseling Self-Confidence Scale scores (BCSCS) were analyzed before and after presentation of the model to master's level pre-practicum students.  Results of a paired samples t-test resulted in a significant difference found between groups, adding support for the model in improving scholarly productivity and counseling efficacy.

Author Biographies

Gary Mihalyi Szirony, Walden University
G. Mihalyi Szirony, Ph.D., graduated from Kent State University. He has had extensive classroom and distance education experience at Kent, Ohio University & Penn State, and is currently a Core Faculty member in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Walden University. He is on the editorial board of the journal, “Work,” and has published on counseling theory and practice, counselor education, and distance learning.
Jason D. Kushner, University of Arkansas Little Rock
Dr. Jason Kushner is a professor of counselor education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with experience in school and mental health counseling.