Counselors' experience of success in initial session: an integrative analysis



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Texas Tech University


Quantitative and qualitative methods were used in investigating the experience of success in initial session from the perspective of counselors in five mental health fields (counseling psychology, clinical psychology, marriage and family therapy, social work, and school psychology). Counselors completed a questionnaire immediately following an initial session, in which they were asked to describe what they felt was successful about the session and to rate the degree of success of the session, as well as rate the relative contribution of the counselor, client, and counseling relationship in achieving success. Counselors also completed measures of epistemic style and level of professional development.

Results of qualitative analysis suggest that counselors' criteria for success derive from five categories: (a) client's display of strengths; (b) counselors' self-evaluation of their performance; (c) the degree to which desirable norms of interaction were observed; (d) the degree to which rapport between client and counselor is established, and (e) achievement in the process of problem-solving.

Results of quantitative analysis suggest that greater level of counseling experience is associated with attributing success to counselor's efforts and greater level of awareness of self and client during counseling. Awareness of self and client was also associated with higher ratings of success of the session. A majority of counselors exhibit a dominant metaphoric epistemic style, while a small yet significant positive association was found between amount of supervision and empirical epistemic style.

Results are discussed in terms of implication for counselor training and practice.