Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling Psychology & Community Services


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore university counseling center clients’ experience and perspective of their in-session covert reactions. The Consensual Qualitative Research method was used to analyze the qualitative data. Twelve participants who were seeking services at a midsize West Coast university counseling center participated in the study. Each participant completed a telephone interview and four questionnaires (Working Alliance Inventory-Short Form, demographic questionnaire, Target Concerns Questionnaire, and the Client Feedback Form).

The qualitative analysis revealed several meaningful categories pertaining to clients’ experience and perspective of their covert reactions. All of the participants in this study reported that they had covert reactions both within their most recent therapy session and previous sessions. The types of covert reactions ranged from early covert reactions regarding therapist’s competence and trustworthiness to reactions associated with therapist’s statements, interpretations, and questions. Participants also provided their perspective of the factors that inhibit or enable their disclosure of covert reactions to their therapist. The results also suggested a potential relationship wherein the client-therapist working alliance mitigates clients’ covert reactions. A number of other noteworthy findings were discovered that have important implications for research and clinical practice.