Faculty of Psychology

Jeanne C. Watson is honorary doctor at the University of Bergen

Professor Jeanne C. Watson, University of Toronto, is an internationally leading researcher on emotion-focused therapy and change processes in psychotherapy.

Æresdoktor Jeanne C. Watson
“My approach is experiential and emotion focused therapy”, says Professor Jeanne C. Watson, she is the appointed honorary doctor of the Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Norway 2024.
The University of Toronto

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“One of the most important principles for a successful psychological consultation is to build a strong therapeutic relationship based on empathy and optimal responsiveness to support change and transformation in therapy”, says Watson.

Professor Watson is the appointed honorary doctor of the Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen (lenke). She is internationally recognized for her work in humanistic-experiential psychotherapy, where she has been a pioneer contributing to the development of emotion-focused therapy (EFT). She is particularly known as a world-leading expert on the importance of empathy in psychotherapy.

“It is a great honor to be appointed honorary doctor at the University of Bergen. My collaboration with colleagues at the University has been so fruitful. This is a wonderful acknowledgment of all our efforts to connect and build international partnerships over the years”.

Access to emotions

Professor Watson has led a groundbreaking study comparing emotion-focused therapy and  cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of depression and has contributed to identifying which processes contribute to change in psychotherapy.

Watson’s research has also contributed to new knowledge about the therapeutic relationship, the working alliance between therapist and patient, and the therapist’s empathy. She has focused on  emotional change processes, as well as the treatment of depression and generalized anxiety disorder.

There are numerous ways to treat depression and some approaches are a better fit for some patients than others.

“My approach is experiential and emotion focused therapy. The primary aim of this approach is to support and enhance clients’ access to and processing of their emotions so they can develop new ways of relating to themselves and others”.

Support for psychological and emotional wellbeing

In a time where division and polarization characterize many countries, and where especially more young people are seeking help for mental problems and disorders, Watson’s research on empathy and psychological change processes is more relevant than ever.

“I view psychotherapy and counselling as essential to promote, maintain and support the psychological and emotional wellbeing of people in general, and especially those that have experienced or are experiencing challenging life events that tax their psychological and emotional resources to adapt and thrive”.

It started with a university course (I’ll ad this paragraph if room in publishing tool)

With a bachelor’s degree in English Literature Watson was always fascinated by the human condition as well as the stories we tell and the choices we make in living. After she emigrated from South Africa, she took courses with Dr. Laura Rice at York University.

“Rice was one of the earliest developers of emotion focused therapy and introduced her to the richness and complexity of experiential and humanistic approaches to psychotherapy as well as the importance of psychotherapy research”

Fruitful partnerships in Bergen

“I feel fortunate that I have had many opportunities to collaborate with colleagues at the University of Bergen!”

Professor Watson has worked in several ways with collaborators here. She has conducted research and workshops on empathy in clinical practice, served as an examiner, and has consulted on research projects. In addition, she has collaborated with colleagues on writing chapters and papers and has served in a mentoring capacity at The Faculty of Psychology.

“The University of Bergen has supported and spawned one of the strongest academic centers for emotion focused therapy in Europe. My colleagues at the University are actively involved in teaching, researching, and promoting emotion focused therapy in Norway”.