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The Relationship Between Personality and Preferred Theoretical Orientation in Student Clinicians

5 December 2008


Previous research has demonstrated a strong connection between the personality traits of psychotherapists and the theoretical model which they utilize in treatment. While evidence of this relationship has been demonstrated in a number of studies, there is little consistency among researchers in regard to the specific personality variables responsible for these findings. Previous studies have primarily focused on the presence of this relationship among practicing clinicians and little attention has been given to investigating the presence of this relationship among students in the process of clinical training. This study examined the relationship between personality traits and preferred theoretical orientation among student clinicians in the interest of demonstrating that a significant relationship exists at the earliest stages of clinical development. The relationship between personality and theoretical orientation of therapists currently in training was investigated using the Jackson Personality Inventory-Revised (JPI-R) as well as surveys regarding theoretical interests and experiences. A sample of 39 student I clinicians from the School of Professional Psychology at Pacific University were enlisted to determine if significant differences in personality traits were evident between clinicians of differing theoretical orientations. The study found that a significant difference existed between orientation groups on the JPI-R domains of Tolerance, Anxiety, Risk-Taking, and Traditional Values. Psychodynamic participants scored significantly higher on Tolerance and Risk-Taking than other theoretical orientations. Behavioral therapists were significantly higher on Traditional Values than humanistic 111 therapists. Humanistic therapists were significantly higher on Anxiety than those who endorsed the "other" category. Orientation profiles, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.


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