Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Elwin C. Nielsen


Elwin C. Nielsen


William Dobson


David Bush


David Stein


Richley Crapo


The provision of psychotherapeutic services has undergone many changes in its history. Recently the field of therapy has seen an increased emphasis on providing services in briefer periods of time, which has resulted in greater investigation into the parameters that influence rapid therapeutic growth by clients. Despite this push for quick results, many service agencies continue to utilize initial intake interviews that focus exclusively on gathering diagnostic and demographic information. Therapeutic intervention is therefore reserved for some later time when the clients can be accommodated from the agency's waiting list. The present study investigated the influence of a standard intervention presented during the intake interview on reported psychological distress, therapeutic alliance, and dropouts from therapy. In addition, the relationship of self-efficacy to these dimensions was investigated.

Eighty subjects who were clients at a university counseling center in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States were split into two groups. One group received the intervention while the other experienced a standard intake without the intervention. Results indicated that the experimental subjects decreased more in their reported levels of distress between the time of the intake interview and their first counseling session than did the control subjects. Similarly, the experimental subjects reported significantly greater feelings of alliance with their therapists than did the control subjects. The number of dropouts from therapy (defined as those who failed to show for the first counseling session) was similar for the groups. Finally, high versus low levels of self-efficacy did not further explain changes in psychological distress or group differences in therapeutic alliance, although level of self-efficacy was related to level of distress.

The results of this study suggest that a client's initial contact with a service agency (i.e., the intake interview) can be utilized to initiate therapeutic gain. It is notable that the observed changes occurred regardless of presenting problems and diagnosis. It was speculated that the therapeutic effects could be enhanced further by expanding this approach to provide specific interventions to individual clients based on initial diagnostic impressions.



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