Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Throughout the past 20 years, a growing emphasis on client competence building within the psychotherapy literature has led to the creation of specific therapeutic interventions, such as narrative therapy and solution-focused therapy. These interventions offer a distinct alternative to traditional deficit-based interventions, where clients are viewed as having a dysfunction that is causing specific symptoms. This study indirectly compared the experiences of a client undergoing a competence model of helping, solution-focused therapy, with the experiences of the same client undergoing a deficit model of helping, cognitive therapy. Information about how personality dimensions are related to the experience of both solution-focused and cognitive therapies was also examined.

The sample used in this study was comprised of 117 undergraduate students. They were presented with a videotaped simulated therapy vignette of either solution- focused therapy or cognitive therapy. They were asked to imagine themselves as the client within the vignette. Following this presentation, participants were asked to complete a series of questionnaires that inquired about techniques observed, expected outcomes, and perceived experience. Participants were then presented with the other therapy vignette and asked to complete the same measures regarding it. Finally, participants were asked to complete a third series of questionnaires that assessed therapy preference and demographic information. At that time, participants also completed the MCMI-II as a measure of personality.

The results of this study failed to identify strong associations between personality dimensions and preference of therapy. Such an outcome suggests that other factors are more associated with preference for therapy than personality . Cognitive therapy was found to be rated as more effective and more preferred than solution-focused therapy. Such results are consistent with the prevalence of deficit-based interventions. The extensive exposure of deficit-based i< derventions in various media presentations may have created expectations about therapy that are influencing the results found here. Additional analyses were conducted to examine the perceived experience of both forms of therapy. Cognitive therapy was overwhelmingly rated as more positive - affectively, cognitively, and behaviorally - than solution-focused therapy. These results also were interpreted as resulting from the prevalence of deficit-based interventions.