The Perception of Pregnant Therapists
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling
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The present study examined the relationship between pregnancy status, participant gender, and the initial perceptions of therapists. A total of 188 participants were recruited from the Qualtrics Online Sample Service. Participants were presented with a simulated online advertisement of a pregnant or non-pregnant therapist and two therapy transcripts attributed to these therapists. Participants were then asked to complete several measures (Counselor Rating Form, Counselor Reactions Inventory, Willingness to See Counselor Scale) and a brief demographic survey. A series of between subject ANOVAs as well as an independent samples t-test were employed to test the hypotheses that pregnancy status and participant gender influenced perceptions of therapist credibility, perceptions of therapist expertness, and willingness to see the therapist and that pregnancy status influenced study participants immediate reactions to the therapist and perceptions of counseling climate, counselor attraction, counselor competency, and study participant willingness to self-disclose. Study results did not support the hypotheses that pregnancy status and participant gender differentially influence the perception of therapists by study participants. However, quasi-qualitative data revealed that despite 91% of study respondents reporting that they would not have a problem seeing a pregnant therapist, several issues were raised in the areas of breadth of ability, emotionality, concern for the therapist, maternity leave/absence, and interaction with personal history, suggesting that additional research is needed to better understand how pregnant therapists are perceived.