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Enhancing therapist self-awareness: How accurately do therapists judge how others perceive them?

20 July 1988


The American Psychological Association Committee on Accreditation has specified criteria by which psychological practitioners should be trained. Of particular interest is the criteria which states that practicum and intern training should facilitate the development of an understanding of one's own personality and biases, and of one's impact upon others in professional interaction. A previous self-study of a psychological service center associated with a professional school of psychology had suggested that this particular training criteria was not addressed in any systematic manner. The purpose of the present study, in general, was to explore whether an objective personality instrument could be utilized within a training program to measure and enhance therapist self-awareness. More specifically, the purpose of this study was to measure how accurately interns in a clinical psychology doctoral training program judge how others perceive them. Six interns volunteered to participate. The subjects were asked to rate themselves as they thought others saw them, using Leary's Interpersonal Checklist, and then to rate each member of the subject group as they observed them publicly, again using Leary's Interpersonal Checklist. When the self-predicted public image for each subject was compared to the actual public image, the results suggested that 2 of the 6 inaccurately perceived how others saw them. Three were very accurate in their ability to judge how others saw them and a fourth was somewhat inaccurate. Knowing how one is seen by others is only one aspect of self-awareness. The results of this study, however, suggest we cannot assume that practitioners in training are aware of their impact upon others nor can we assume that training programs necessarily foster the capacity for self-understanding. Suggestions are made regarding the utility of an objective personality instrument, such as the Interpersonal Checklist, in facilitating and enhancing therapist self-awareness.


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