Type of Document Dissertation Author Perkins, Susan Nadine Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-05102010-165141 Title Influential Client Factors: Understanding and Organizing Therapists' Perceptions Of client Factors That Influence Reported Outcome of Therapy Degree PhD Department Human Development Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Piercy, Fred P. Committee Chair Blow, Adrian J. Committee Member Dolbin-MacNab, Megan L. Committee Member Doolittle, Peter E. Committee Member Keywords
- common factors
- client factors
Date of Defense 2010-04-29 Availability unrestricted AbstractResearchers and clinicians report that they think the client is the most influential
component in determining the outcome of therapy. Although a variety of studies have examined
the impact of various client factors on the outcome of couple therapy, this research is not
cohesive and produces inconsistent results. The purpose of this multi-method study is to present
a sense of the range and depth of client factors that influence the outcome of couple therapy.
The use of qualitative and quantitative methods allowed the data to build on existing research
while expanding the range of client factors considered. Data were gathered using a dynamic,
web-based survey which assigned participants to discuss a case of successful or unsuccessful
couple therapy. Participants provided their own descriptions of influential client characteristics.
Participants also rated how important they thought several literature-based client factors were.
Quantitative data analysis utilized descriptive statistics, principal components analysis, and
logistic regression. Qualitative data were analyzed in two stages, using content analysis. Results
indicated that couples can be conceptualized by five arenas of couple focus; these arenas
accurately predicted whether participants were discussing a successful or unsuccessful case of
couple therapy 85.9% of the time. Regarding individual client characteristics, in general, clients
whose couple therapy was successful tended to be open to each other and committed to the
relationship and to therapy. Unsuccessful couple therapy tended to focus on a greater number of
individual issues. Couple dynamics characteristics differed according to outcome groups;
participants described four types of couple dynamics that influenced couple therapy to be
unsuccessful. Data showed that many client factors influenced the outcome of couple therapy,
and that uncommon client characteristics could be vital to the outcome of some cases.
Participants described a client’s life events as impacting the outcome of couple therapy by
increasing one person’s vulnerability to his or her partner. If the partner acted in a way that
created a sense of connection or support, this contributed to successful couple therapy. The
results are presented in connection to previous research, when possible. Finally, implications for
theory, research, and clinical work with couples are discussed.
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