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An active, conversational style is a basic supportive technique that is contextual rather than tactical (based on specific content of patients' utterances). The rationale for its use is that it emulates familiar social interaction and thus tends not to raise anxiety such as that seen with the therapist's more abstaining, exploratory stance when conducting an expressive treatment. The therapist tends to be more active than in traditional expressive therapies, in which, even if not abstinent in the classical sense, the therapist practices restraint as the default position (Gabbard 2004). Although supportive psychotherapy does not use abstinence as the primary therapeutic stance, because the intent is not to remain neutral so as to assist in the development of intense transferences, the therapist will still have a therapeutic rationale for his or her interventions. Sometimes the therapist will make bridging comments simply to keep the flow of the conversation going, because awkward silences can raise a patient's anxiety. At other times, the therapist waits with interest and concern for the patient to finish formulating his or her thoughts, or to get a handle on a difficult feeling, before he or she responds. Finishing patient's statements is supportive and empathic only if accurate and tempered to the characteristics of the patient. In addition, an interrogatory style consistent with medical student history taking peppers the patient with "why" questions that may be perceived as accusatory or attacking, so the supportive therapist uses a more conversational, nonchallenging approach to gather information (Pinsker 1997).

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