Client-counselor role expectations and outcomes of counseling

Martin Joseph Brennan, Fordham University


The study investigated the effects of specific dimensions of client and therapist role expectations, their divergencies and changes, on the process and outcome variables of premature termination, client satisfaction, and therapist-offered relationship. It was hypothesized that divergent or disconfirmed expectations would be associated with negative effects and alternatively that convergent or confirmed expectations would be related to positive outcome. Fifty clients applying for psychotherapy at a community mental health center comprised the sample, as did the nine therapists who treated them. Measures, tapping both clients' and therapists' expectations, were administered prior to the first session, and again after they completed three sessions of psychotherapy. Role expectations were measured by the Expectations About Counseling Questionnaire. The relationship, as measured by the Relationship Inventory, was rated after 10 sessions or at termination, whichever came first. Premature terminators were differentiated from continuers according to the number of sessions attended as well as through therapists' judgments. Results indicated that premature termination was not related to role expectations. Results further suggested that disconfirmation of therapists' expectations negatively correlated with client satisfaction and the therapist offered relationship. Further, divergent expectations regarding the personal commitment of clients were negatively related to client satisfaction. The findings indicated that clients had significantly higher initial and third session expectations than did the therapists. The results also suggested that clients did not change their expectations over time while the therapists lowered their expectations from the first to the third sessions.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Academic guidance counseling

Recommended Citation

Brennan, Martin Joseph, "Client-counselor role expectations and outcomes of counseling" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9007173.