THERAPIST-CLIENT RACIAL MATCHING VS. NON-MATCHING AND THERAPISTS’ COUNTERTRANSFERENCE: EXPLORING THEIR RELATION AND TESTING MODERATORS.
Palma Orellana, Beatriz Isabel
Gelso, Charles J.
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The present study assessed the influence of clients’ race (i.e., Black/African American or White/European American), therapists’ universal-diverse orientation (UDO), and therapists’ anger discomfort on countertransference reactions. Countertransference was operationalized as therapists’ self-reported state anxiety, their verbal avoidant responses (as manifestation of behavioral countertransference), and their self-reported countertransference. Data were gathered from 63 White, European American therapists and therapists-in-training. Participants completed online measures pertaining to universal-diverse orientation, anger discomfort, trait anxiety, social desirability, and a demographic questionnaire. A week after completing such measures, the participants completed a Lab session. The therapists and therapists-in-training were randomly assigned to one of two conditions: An angry White/European American client or an angry Black/African American client. Participants watched and verbally responded to a video of the assigned scripted analogue client. Right afterward, the therapists and therapists-in-training completed a measure of state anxiety and three single items assessing the influence of the participant’s countertransference in his or her behaviors, thoughts, and feelings while responding to the videotaped client. Additionally, the participants’ verbal responses were transcribed verbatim and coded as approach or avoidant responses, which ultimately provided an index of behavioral countertransference. Results showed that therapists’ anger discomfort, their universal-diverse orientation, clients’ race, and interaction terms (clients’ race X UDO and clients’ race X anger discomfort) predicted state anxiety. However, in this model, only anger discomfort was statistically significant. No significant effects were found on the other countertransference measures. Additionally, only anger discomfort significantly and uniquely accounted for variance in state anxiety. Contrary to expectations, neither clients’ race nor universal-diverse orientation uniquely accounted for variance in the dependent variables. Results were not significant for the interaction of clients’ race and UDO on therapists’ countertransference reactions. Results were also non-significant for the interaction of clients’ race and anger discomfort on the participants’ countertransference reactions. Implications of the findings are further discussed.