THERAPIST PHYSICAL ATTRACTIVENESS: AN UNEXPLORED INFLUENCE ON CLIENT DISCLOSURE

Authors

  • Steven M. Harris,

    1. Texas Tech University
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    • Steven M. Haris, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Texas Tech University, Box 41162, Lubbock, TX 789409-1162. E-mail: Sharris@ttu.edu.

  • Dean M. Busby

    1. Syracuse University
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    • Dean M. Busby, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Syracuse University, 008 Slocum Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244.


Abstract

Existing research indicates that clients perceive facially attractive therapists as more competent, trustworthy, genuine, and effective than less attractive therapists. No Studies exist to help explain how the therapist's attractiveness influences a client's self-disclosure. Participants (n = 241) were randomly assigned to one of eight experimental groups to test the interaction of the therapist's attractiveness, client's gender, the nature of presenting problem, and the client's comfort with disclosing in a hypothetical couple therapy scenario. Analysis of variance procedures established that most participants reported feeling more comfortable disclosing a benign (communications) problem than a potentially embarrassing (sexual) problem, and more comfortable disclosing problem to an attractive than to a less attractive female therapist. Therapists are encouraged to understand the power attractiveness may have in their own and their client's lives

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