What Works for me? The Impact of the Combination Between 'Personal Style' and Therapeutic Orientation on a Client's Experience of Therapy
Allen, Thomas William
Recent research on psychotherapeutic outcome has highlighted cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) as the preferred psychotherapeutic approach for most psychological problems. There is however considerable evidence supporting the comparative effectiveness of approaches alternative to CBT. Central to this alternative evidence base is the notion that ‘personal styles’ are influential in determining individual preferences for different psychotherapeutic approaches. This study examined the effect of the combination between the ‘personal style’ of the client and the type of psychotherapeutic approach they receive (more or less directive) on the client’s experience of therapy. A second aim of this study was to explore similarities and differences in the way clients with different 'personal styles' construe therapy through analysis of repertory grid data. Thirty participants with diagnoses of anxiety and/or depression were recruited from mental health charities and a local NHS community team. Participants completed a questionnaire measuring the direction of interest element of personal style, a self-report questionnaire rating their experience of psychotherapy and a repertory grid exploring their construing of psychotherapy. The study found that the fit between an individual’s ‘personal style’ and the type of therapeutic approach they received was predictive of therapy experience. Analysis of the repertory grids revealed few differences in the construing of participants with different ‘personal styles’. The use of a global measure of therapeutic experience was original in research looking at the helpful aspects of psychotherapy. The strengths and limitations of the study are discussed and ideas for future research are recommended.