Go to Home Page

TMatch: Client/Therapist Matching Based on

Client Preference for Therapist Values

Short Restatement of Matching Recommendations

This matching criteria is based on the standard method of assessing values in psychotherapy research, which is the Rokeach Value Survey (Rokeach, 1973). The standard Rokeach Value Survey has individuals place 18 terminal values and 18 instrumental values in order of importance as guiding principles in their lives. Instrumental values are "desirable modes of conduct" and terminal values are "desirable end-states of existence" (Rokeach, p. 7). Because of time and space limitations, it was decided to only use the terminal values in TMatch. Clients were asked to order these values according to how they would want their ideal therapist to order them.

Client Assessments

Because of time limitations in the first version of TMatch, clients were asked to order the 18 terminal values into four classes for their ideal therapist, ranging from most preferred to least preferred, instead of putting all 18 in order. However, dividing 18 values into 4 classes was very confusing for everyone, since it meant classes didn't all have the same number of values in them. For the purposes of the demonstration on this web site, this has been reduced to 3 classes, each containing six values after ordering.

Therapist Assessments

Therapists were asked to order the same values as to their relative importance in their lives.

Future Use of Personal Values for Matching

Results of Study

In general, clients liked the idea of having the opportunity to express preferences for their therapists' personal values. However, the Rokeach list of values is probably not ideal of this type of matching. One problem was that clients and therapists tended to consistently rate some values high and others low. For example, National Security was consistently rated low. The usefulness of any of the matching criteria is proportional to the extent to which it evenly differentiates among clients and therapists. Therefore, a useful list of values would have answers from therapists and preferences from clients that spread evenly through the list, without any value being rated consistently high or low. Another problem is that there were some values clients would have wanted in this matching that weren't included, such as concern about the environment. The study results may have been skewed because the study took place in a particularly liberal area. On the other hand, the Rokeach list of values is over 30 years old, and the concerns in the world related to personal values may have changed in the last 30 years. In addition, therapists are in general middle class and highly educated, which may cause their values to be skewed relative to the general population.

The Next Step for Matching Based on Therapist Values

The ideal would be a list of personal values that is evenly distributed among therapists, evenly distributed among client preferences, current enough to be relevant, and accepted a valid in the psychology research community. I suspect such a list does not presently exist. The next best step would be to try to modify the Rockeach list by deleting the least useful items and adding a few more current items, and trying this again. Ideally a study of client/therapist matching based just on this new list would be undertaken to eliminate conflicting variables.

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


Rokeach, M. (1973). The nature of human values. New York: Free Press.