Date of Award

8-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Brent S. Mallinckrodt

Committee Members

Michael A. Olson, John W. Lounsbury, Asafa Jalata.

Abstract

This 2-study research project explored whether the ethnicity of university counseling center therapists affects White clients’ therapy attendance rates and perception of counselors’ trustworthiness and level of expertise. Study 1 examined attendance rate differences of the clients of White therapists versus ethnic minority therapists in a university counseling center to determine if the minority therapists have lower client attendance rates than clients of White counselors. Study 2 examined White undergraduate participants’ ratings of profiles of White, African American and non-US Indian counselors portrayed in a mock university counseling center brochure on factors of trustworthiness and expertise. It also examined Big 5 personality traits as covariates to determine if the trait of Openness to Experience positively influences White participants’ ratings of ethnic minority therapists. Results for Study 1 showed that practicum-level ethnic minority trainees had significantly lower client attendance rates when compared with practicum level White therapists; no significant differences in client attendance rates were found among intern-level minority and White therapists. Study 2 found that non-US Indian counselors were rated more negatively than White or African American counselors by White participants. However, the trait of Openness did not show a significant interaction with ethnicity of counselor among participants. The article concludes with a discussion of the main findings, future research ideas, and practical implications for university counseling centers regarding assigning clients to ethnically/culturally different counselors.

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Dec 15 2011

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