Get access

Qualities clients wish for in their therapists


Rolf Wynn, Psychiatric Research Centre of Northern Norway, University Hospital of Northern Norway, Åsgård N-9291 Tromsø, Norway.


In this qualitative and phenomenological study we interviewed 36 clients following the second session of psychotherapy. We asked the clients about which therapist qualities they felt were important with regard to the therapist–client alliance. A possible change of therapist was also discussed. Behaving in a confidence-inspiring and calm manner were seen as good therapist qualities that could promote the client–therapist alliance. It was seen as important that the therapist was prepared and had a plan for therapy. The clients felt it was vital that therapists were accepting and understanding. The clients also emphasized the importance of the therapist balancing attentive listening with questioning and commenting. Many clients needed two sessions before a good connection was established. A smaller group felt that they achieved a good or very good connection with their therapists immediately, while a minority of patients had not obtained a good connection with their therapists after two sessions. None of the clients wished to change therapist, and clients had few negative comments about the therapists. The findings underline the importance of the nonspecific and interpersonal aspects of therapists’ behaviour in the alliance-building process.