Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

E. Wayne Wright


E. Wayne Wright


The purpose of the present study was two-fold: (1) to investigate various degrees of counselor-offered empathy in initial interviews, in order to determine whether consistently high levels of counselor-- offered empathy in the initial therapy interview causes high levels of client anxiety, and (2) to determine whether increased client anxiety or the levels of counselor-offered empathy that the client receives in the initial counseling interview affects the client's likelihood to continue in counseling following one session. To accomplish the purpose of the study 27 high-anxiety and 27 low-anxiety undergraduate, incentive volunteers were seen in an initial counseling session by one of three psychology, graduate-student counselors. During the interview the counselor offered the clients one of three predetermined levels of empathy (high, medium, or low). The subject's state-anxiety level was measured prior to the interview and during the interview by two paper and pencil, self-report measures, and also by heart rate. The likelihood to continue in counseling following the initial interview was also measured by a specially designed questionnaire. Results revealed that there were no differences between the anxiety scores of the subjects receiving high, medium, or low counselor-offered empathy. No relationship was found to exist between the subjects' anxiety scores and their choice to terminate or continue counseling after the initial interview. However, an interaction effect upon the subjects' likelihood to continue in counseling was found to exist between their trait anxiety level and the level of counselor-offered empathy which they received.



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