Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Charles Matthews


This study investigated whether therapists' health of family of origin, marital adjustment, and personality traits influence their approach to therapy in systematic and measurable ways. Approach to therapy referred to: (1) relative emphasis on clients' family of origin versus current presenting problems, and (2) preference for doing individual versus conjoint marital therapy.;This study employed a survey design. Questionnaires were mailed to a national random sample of 200 counselors from the membership of the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). One hundred-six were returned, for a return rate of 53%. The following instruments were used to measure the variables in the study: the Family of Origin Scale; the Locke-Wallace Marital Adjustment Test; The Adjective Check List; and the Therapeutic Focus Scale, an instrument created by the author for this study.;The results were not statistically significant for any of the hypotheses in the study. However, the relationship between therapists' family of origin and approach to therapy approached significance. That is, there was a trend for therapists from healthier families of origin to focus more on clients' current presenting problems, and for therapists from less healthy families of origin to focus more on clients' families of origin. An unexpected finding was that therapists who held a doctoral degree were relatively more likely to focus on clients' current presenting problems, whereas holders of masters degrees were more likely to focus on clients' families of origin. The overarching conclusion of this study, however, is that the influence of therapists' family background and personality traits on their therapeutic approach appears to be too complex and subtle to be easily categorized and measured.



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