This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

A Preliminary Examination of Religion in the Perception of Therapists' Helpfulness




Bost, Crystal

Type of Degree



Counseling Psychology
School Psychology
Counselor Education


The current study aimed to assess religious clients’ evaluation of therapists’ helpfulness in psychotherapy. Participants (N = 35) were undergraduate and graduate students from 11 public institutions of higher learning within the United States of America. Participants were actual clients who had received or were currently receiving therapeutic services. These participants were also members of Christian, Jewish, or Muslim student organizations on their respective campus. Level of helpfulness was measured using an one-item measure, which asked participants --Y΄How helpful was this therapist?,‘ on a 4 point rating scale. Client satisfaction was measured by using Part Three of the Problem Resolution Outcome Survey (PROS), which included three items that assessed the client’s perceived effectiveness of resolution to his or her presenting problem. Each of the three items used a 6-point Likert scale. Participants were able to evaluate the level of helpfulness and satisfaction received from their first and/or most recent therapists. Participant strength of religiosity was also measured. Participants were asked to report on ecumenical behaviors displayed by therapists during their therapy sessions. The impact of therapists’ ecumenical behavior and client strength of religiosity on client perception of therapists’ helpfulness was also investigated. Descriptive data analysis suggests the following: (1) As current and first therapists’ ecumenical behaviors increased in frequency, the religious clients’ level of perceived therapists’ helpfulness increased; (2) The frequency of current and first therapists’ ecumenical behaviors differed based on therapists’ religious affiliation; (3) The perception of current and first therapists’ helpfulness differed based on clients’ religious affiliation; (4) Clients’ strength of religiosity did alter client perception of current therapists’ helpfulness, but not for first therapists’ helpfulness ratings; and (5) A positive relationship exists between clients’ satisfaction rating and clients’ perceived level of helpfulness. Implications and limitations of the study are discussed.