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TMatch: Client/Therapist Matching Based on Client

Preference for Therapy Length and Depth Possibilities

Short Restatement of Matching Recommendations

Time limitations in therapy is related to, but not identical with, therapy depth, in that the more depth desired, the more time required. However, some systems of therapy allow clients to go as deep as they desire, and other systems by their nature remain at the depth at which they start, no matter how long the therapy lasts. For example, a client who is referred to behavior therapy has no opportunity to decide to remain in therapy for a long term depth therapy. Therefore clients were matched to therapists based on how much their preferences for therapy length and depth matched the therapists self-assessments on their tendencies and preferences for their therapies.

Client Assessments

Clients were asked several direct questions about how long they would prefer their therapy to last, and two indirect questions which attempted to find their preference for therapy depth.

Therapist Assessments

Therapists were asked equivalent questions about their preferences and tendencies.

Future Use for Matching

Results of Study for Therapy Length

Matching by client preference for therapy length did not work. In the study, client preferences were so slanted toward short term therapy that all that would be accomplished by including this criterion would be to almost always select for therapists who emphasize short term treatments. It may be that clients usually do not know enough about psychotherapy to be able to make informed decisions about what length of therapy would be most helpful to them. Probably everyone if given a choice would prefer to have their problems solved as quickly as possible. Therefore, therapy length is not a good client preference criterion. There are other client matching criteria for which therapist preferences for therapy length is appropriate, such as the recommendations from Prescriptive Psychotherapy related to problem complexity and social support.

Results of Study for Therapy Depth

There was some indication from the study that clients would be interested in expressing preferences for (or disinterest in) therapy that could have increased depth over time. The questions need to be expanded and fine tuned, and then validated, to accomplish this type of matching. Therapists did have a variety of preferences for length and depth.

The Next Step for Matching on this Criterion

Matching based on client preference for therapy length should be abandoned. However, a method of determining clients interest in the possibility of their therapy having increased depth over time should be developed, but in such a way that their is no connotation that this means they can't have their problems solved as quickly as possible. Then therapists can be assessed for the possibility that their therapy can have increased depth over time.

For more information, email Kenneth Frankel, Ph.D.