Psychotherapy preferences of laypersons and mental health professionals: Whose therapy is it?

What do patients prefer in their psychotherapy? Do laypersons and mental health professionals (as patients) want the same, or different, things? The authors systematically examined patients’ psychotherapy preferences and quantitatively compared two samples of laypersons (N = 228, 1,305) with one sample of mental health professionals (N = 615) on the four dimensions of the Cooper—Norcross Inventory of Preferences: Therapist Directiveness Versus Client Directiveness, Emotional Intensity Versus Emotional Reserve, Past Orientation Versus Present Orientation, and Warm Support Versus Focused Challenge. On average, laypersons wanted therapist directiveness and emotional intensity. Robust differences were found between laypersons’ and professionals’ preferences on these two dimensions: Mental health professionals wanted less therapist directiveness than did laypersons (gs = 0.92 and 1.43 between groups) and more emotional intensity (gs = 0.49 and 1.33). Women also wanted more warm support than men (gs = 0.40 and 0.57). These findings suggest that psychotherapists should be mindful of their own treatment preferences and ensure that these are not inappropriately generalized to patients. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)