An examination of client worldview and expectations about psychotherapy

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Committee Member

Blaine J. Fowers - Committee Chair


Of primary importance in this study was the attempt to better comprehend the clients whom we face in therapy. This study sought to do this by investigating the potential relationships between clients' worldviews and expectations for therapy. In addition, the study examined the manner in which clients' worldviews and expectations might be related to their evaluations of and participation in therapy.Data were collected from a sample of 80 clients who presented to a community mental health clinic staffed by graduate practicum students. Clients were recruited voluntarily at the time of their intake session. Participants completed a demographic form, the Value Orientations Scale, and the Expectations about Counseling-Brief scale before the intake with their therapists began. Immediately after the session, participants completed the Working Alliance Inventory - Short Form and the Session Evaluation Questionnaire - Depth Index.The findings support the premise that clients' worldviews and expectations are related in important ways. The results consistently indicated that clients who were more aligned with an idealized humanistic worldview also had higher expectations that they would be personally committed in therapy and that the therapist would impart facilitative qualities, such as genuineness, in the process of therapy. The results also suggest that certain dimensions of clients' worldviews and expectations for therapy were associated with their evaluations of the therapeutic relationship. Participants whose relational stance was more aligned with an individualistic worldview had less positive views of the therapeutic alliance after intake. Furthermore, respondents who endorsed higher expectations for personal commitment in therapy had more positive views of the therapeutic alliance after intake.Finally, clients' ethnic backgrounds were not associated with their worldviews, expectations, or post-intake evaluations. This extends previous research that underscored the need to look beyond ethnicity as the sole marker for clients' cultural and personal meanings and reinforces the value in exploring variables with more depth, such as worldview. Overall, the study's results support the premise that knowledge of a client's worldview enriches our understanding of the person's presumptions for how therapy will ensue. It is hoped that the results highlight the importance of understanding clients as thoroughly contextualized beings.


Psychology, Clinical; Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

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