Factors impacting therapists' perceptions of clients and their expectations for treatment outcomes

Margaret Mary O'Shea, Pace University


Extensive research has been conducted attempting to discover what factors contribute to the success of psychotherapy. Although specific client factors have been determined, many studies examining factors regarding the therapist have indicated that further research must be completed to My understand the impact of specific therapist variables which impact therapeutic outcome. Factors which lead a therapist to have positive expectations regarding the client have not yet been understood. ^ This study attempted to identify specific variables which contribute to the development of therapists' perceptions and expectations for positive therapeutic outcome in the treatment of a seriously emotionally disturbed child. Subjects consisted of 59 therapists employed at a community mental health agency in suburban Long Island, New York. Subjects participated by completing a demographic questionnaire, and reading a fictitious case example reflecting a typical seriously emotionally disturbed child. Therapists then completed the Therapist Expectancy Inventory (TEI), reflecting their expectations regarding directiveness and interpretations they would use as intervention, as well as the client's needs and likely outcome following treatment. ^ The first hypothesis of this study was that both newer therapists and more seasoned therapists would hold more positive expectations regarding prognosis for the child presented in the case example than therapists in the middle half of the total span of years of experience. A positive curvilinear relationship was expected. This hypothesis was not supported by the data. A second hypothesis was that therapists who report that they involve other family members in the treatment of child and/or adolescent therapy cases, would have more positive outcome predictions for the child presented in the case example. This hypothesis was not supported by the data. A third hypothesis of this study was that clinicians trained as psychologists would demonstrate more positive expectations for therapeutic outcome for the child presented in the case example than clinicians trained as psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or social workers. ^ Results did not indicate distinct therapist variables which are integral to the establishment of a positive expectation for the seriously emotionally disturbed child presented in the case example, as was anticipated. This study was expected to provide information which can be useful in improving client-therapist match when selecting a treating clinician for such a child, therefore improving attendance, therapeutic alliance, and ultimately therapeutic outcome. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)^

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

O'Shea, Margaret Mary, "Factors impacting therapists' perceptions of clients and their expectations for treatment outcomes" (2000). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9962348.



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