Effect of Client-Therapist Gender Match on the Therapeutic Relationship: An Exploratory Analysis

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Publication Date

Fall 9-22-2014


Matching clients and counselors on the basis of heuristics, such as gender, is common in clinical practice. Considerable research has examined the effect of gender matching on the therapeutic alliance with equivocal results. Researchers have offered various hypotheses to explain these findings without consensus. This study sought to examine gender matching in a naturalistic setting and proposed that gender matching varies in importance depending upon the stage of the therapeutic relationship. It was hypothesized that gender matching affects the therapeutic alliance initially and then becomes less important as other factors come into play. Results did not support the hypothesis but showed a general "female effect." Across all stages of therapy, female clients matched with female therapists reported therapeutic alliance ratings higher than dyads with a male therapist. Dyads with a female therapist and male client also reported alliance higher than male gender matched dyads. Implications of these results, limitations, and future directions are discussed.

Publication Title

Psychological Reports





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