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'No-Show': Therapist Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Client Unilateral Termination

Owen, Jesse ; Imel, Zac ; Adelson, Jill ; Rodolfa, Emil

Journal of Counseling Psychology, 2012, Vol.59(2), pp.314-320 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    'No-Show': Therapist Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Client Unilateral Termination
  • Author/Creator: Owen, Jesse ; Imel, Zac ; Adelson, Jill ; Rodolfa, Emil
  • Language: English
  • Subjects: Unilateral Termination ; Race/Ethnicity ; Mental Health Disparities ; Therapist Effects
  • Is Part Of: Journal of Counseling Psychology, 2012, Vol.59(2), pp.314-320
  • Description: In the present study, the authors examined the source of racial/ethnic minority (REM) disparities in unilateral termination (i.e., the client ending therapy without informing the therapist)—a form of dropout that is associated with poor alliance and outcome. First, the authors tested whether some therapists were more likely to have clients who reported unilaterally terminating as compared with other therapists. Next, the authors examined 2 competing hypotheses regarding the therapists role in termination disparities: (a) that racial/ethnic disparities in unilateral termination are similar across therapists and thus due to other components of the treatment process or (b) that racial/ethnic disparities in unilateral termination are specific to therapists, where some therapists are more likely, on average, to have higher rates of unilateral termination with REM clients as compared with White clients. The sample included 155 REM clients and 177 White clients who were treated by 44 therapists at a university counseling center. The results showed that therapists accounted for a significant proportion of the variation in clients' unilateral termination, and REM clients were more likely to report they unilaterally terminated from therapy as compared with White clients. Furthermore, racial/ethnic disparities in clients' report of unilateral termination varied across therapists' caseloads. These results suggest that therapists have a central role in their clients' unilateral termination and have implications for understanding racial/ethnic mental health disparities.
  • Identifier: ISSN: 0022-0167 ; E-ISSN: 1939-2168 ; DOI: 10.1037/a0027091