Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

William F Chaplin

Second Advisor

Tara Rooney


The aims of this research is to 1) quantitatively assess therapist perceptions of prototypically difficult and successful clients and assess whether characterizations of such clients vary as a function of therapist level of experience and sex, 2) examine whether clients who characterize themselves as more similar to the prototype show different rates of change in psychotherapy, and 3) evaluate whether clients’ self-reported personality and attitudes change in psychotherapy become more or less similar to the prototype profiles. There were no differences in prototypical difficult and successful client profiles as a function of therapist sex or level of experience. Clients’ improvements in psychotherapy were not moderated by clients’ similarity to prototype difficult or successful profiles. There was some suggestion that clients’ personality profiles 30 weeks into therapy were more like the prototype successful personality profile compared to their personality profiles at baseline (p = .058). Clients’ attitude profiles appeared to move away from the prototype difficult attitude profile and towards the prototype successful attitude profile (ps ≤ .001). These results suggest that, how similar a client is to therapists’ perception of a prototype difficult or successful client does not impact their progress in therapy, but clients change to become more like the prototype successful client and less like the prototype difficult client during the course of psychotherapy.

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