Client Preferences for Insight-Oriented and Action-Oriented Psychotherapy

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Client preferences for psychotherapy style have been understudied, despite their value in adding to our understanding of psychotherapy process and outcome. Furthermore, current research trends point towards investigating the match between client and therapist in determining outcome (ATI research). One match that has not been studied as much is the match between client preference for type of therapy and therapist therapy style. Two styles that seem particularly important are insight- and action-oriented therapy, which are often distinct therapy approaches. Clients often come to counseling anticipating either receiving insight or making a plan for action. This research has implications for enhancing client outcome due to its promise to determine better client-therapist matches.

The present study employed an experimental laboratory method with two independent variables. The independent variables were client preferences for insight oriented therapy versus action oriented therapy, and counseling style provided (insight oriented therapy vs. action oriented therapy). Dependent variables were changes in target problem, relationship strength (RS), session depth, session evaluation (SES), therapist credibility, and change in preference for insight versus action. Control participants watched a videotape of Carl Rogers performing psychotherapy.

Hypothesis 1 was that clients who receive their preferred therapy style will have a more positive outcome than clients who do not receive their preferred therapy style. Result indicated that hypothesis 1 was not supported. Hypothesis 2 was that credibility will be associated with better outcome. Results indicated that hypothesis 2 was partially supported. Hypothesis three was that match between client preferences and treatment received will be a greater predictor of outcome than credibility. Hypothesis 3 was not supported. Hypothesis 4 was that clients who perceive their therapists as credible will shift more towards the style received than clients who do not perceive their therapists as credible. Hypothesis 4 was not supported. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.