Corresponding Author Information: Taylor Rodriguez

Session Abstract: BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The incorporation of personality assessment (e.g., Harkness & Lilienfield, 1997) and treatment preferences (e.g., Swift et al., 2011) in psychotherapy has implications for therapeutic processes and outcomes. While this research has focused on clients (e.g., Swift et al., 2013), providers demonstrate differing perspectives of clients as a function of both their own (e.g., Rosenkrantz & Morrison, 1992) and their clients' personalities (e.g., Lehman & Salovey, 1990). However, no prior literature has considered providers' preferences of clients and only two studies have investigated providers' personalities (Peter et al., 2017; Saarino, 2011). The current study examines providers' Big 5 personality traits and profiles and their associations with preferences for client personality. We hypothesized that providers would demonstrate three personality profiles: (1) high openness, agreeableness, and extraversion and low conscientiousness, (2) high neuroticism and conscientiousness, low agreeableness and extraversion, and (3) average across traits. We also expected providers to demonstrate higher agreeableness and extraversion, and lower neuroticism compared to norms. While analyses regarding preferences of clients were largely exploratory, we hypothesized that those with more years of experience would prefer a client with high agreeableness and conscientiousness, and average neuroticism. Conversely, we expected those with less experience to prefer a client with a similar personality.

SUBJECT(S): A majority of the sample (N = 176; age M = 35.6, SD = 11.63) were clinical or counseling psychology professionals, lived in the U.S., and identified as white (86.4%), heterosexual (75.6%), and female (80.7%). Clinical experience ranged from less than one year to 50 years (M = 9.5, SD = 9.7).

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Providers' personality was measured via the Mini-International Personality Item Pool (Mini-IPIP; Donnellan et al., 2006). Providers identified a preferred client via a modified Mini-IPIP and a sliding scale with NEO-Personality Inventory-3 descriptors for each trait from low to high (Costa & McCrae, 2010).

ANALYSES: Zero-order correlations were conducted to explore the relationship between providers' personality and preferred client personality. T-tests were conducted to compare providers' personality traits to the norm. Latent profile analyses (LPAs) were utilized to identify classes of the providers' personality, the preferred client personality, and the normative sample.

RESULTS: Compared to the norm (Goldberg, 2018), providers demonstrated higher agreeableness (d = .75), neuroticism (d = .48), and openness (d = .45), as well as lower conscientiousness (d = .29). Based on the modified Mini-IPIP, providers higher in extraversion, openness, and conscientiousness preferred a client with the same traits [correlations ranging from .20 (extraversion) to .38 (agreeableness)]. Based on the sliding scale, only providers higher in extraversion (r = .29) and conscientiousness (r = .17) preferred a similar client. Clinical experience was positively associated with preferred client sliding scale ratings of extraversion (.16); however, no other associations were observed. LPAs revealed 4-classes of provider personality: behavior prone; agreeable self-disciplined; warm, directive, demonstrative; and disagreeable. With the modified Mini-IPIP, three preferred client profiles emerged: neurotic; warm, collaborative; and average. Based on the sliding scale, two preferred client profiles emerged: behavior prone; warm, collaborative. There were no associations between self-rated profiles and that of preferred clients.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings establish the presence of providers' unique personality and preferences of client personality which can stimulate future research regarding the impact of providers' preferences and personality on therapeutic processes and outcomes.


Taylor Rodriguez, MS | University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS

Joye Anestis | Rutgers University; New Brunswick, NJ

Taylor Rodriguez 

Taylor Rodriguez is a third-year doctoral student at the University of Southern Mississippi. She completed her undergraduate and graduate (M.S. - Clinical Psychology) training at Augusta University. Taylor is primarily interested in traits (e.g., personality, sociodemographic variables) and preferences of clients and therapists as they relate to psychotherapy process and outcomes.

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