Face-to-Face Interaction: The Behavioral, Biological, and Cognitive Relevance of Dominant Eye Contact in Psychotherapy
The face-to-face context of the therapeutic relationship is probably its most universal characteristic. Looking at someone's face, according to nonverbal communication researchers Ekman and Friesen (1975), is intimate. You take such libelty, they say, only ifthe other person gives it to you by being "a public perfOlmer, or if your social role bestows it upon you ... or if you avowedly seek to share intimacy, looking and inviting the look ofthe other person" (p. 16). On the other hand, not looking at another person's face, in addition to being polite and not wanting to embarrass or be embarrassed, Ekman and Friesen maintain, is often motivated by not wanting to be burdened with the knowledge, or not feeling obligated, "to do something about how the person feels" (p. 16).