DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MORE AND LESS EFFECTIVE PSYCHOTHERAPISTS: A STUDY OF SELECT THERAPIST VARIABLES.
Committee ChairBeutler, Larry E.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis study examined differences between more and less effective trainee psychotherapists. Trainee therapists were assigned to one of two groups depending on whether their patients' mean change in symptomatology indicated more or less improvement over the course of therapy. Differences between these two therapist groups were examined on a select number of therapist variables that previous research has found to relate to therapy outcome. These variables included: therapist emotional adjustment, relationship skills, ability to elicit patient involvement, credibility, directiveness, and theoretical orientation variables. The variables which were found to be most effective in differentiating between the two groups were specific to the therapy process. The most discriminating variable was the therapist relationship skill of empathic understanding. That is, less effective therapists were revealed to manifest lower levels of empathic understanding, as measured by their patients' perceptions of feeling understood. Next, less effective therapists were distinguished by their own perceptions of their patients as more involved in the therapy process and of themselves as providing more direction and support to patients. A preliminary examination of differences in the value systems of more and less effective psychotherapists was conducted with the use of the Rokeach Value Survey. This revealed that the less effective therapists valued their own prosperity and stimulation significantly more than more effective therapists did, and valued their intellectual development significantly less than more effective therapists did. These findings of value differences between more and less effective therapists merit further investigation. Overall, the present findings with regard to the differences in relationship skills manifest by more and less effective psychotherapists are consistent with previous findings. The findings which suggest that less effective therapists may also manifest: (1) a more general discomfort with affect (2) idiosyncratic perceptions of the therapy process, and (3) a discriminant pattern of values, require further investigation.