Role Anticipations and Preferences Over the Course of Counseling

Terence J. Tracey, Margaret Dundon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We collected client role anticipations and preferences prior to each session from 33 clients seen at a large university counseling center. After each session, the counselors rated how each client behaved with respect to these role dimensions. We examined these data in three ways. First, we examined the initial role anticipations and preferences to determine the extent to which they were similar. We found that anticipations and preferences were significantly different but that they covaried greatly. Second, we examined several competing explanatory models of the disconfirmed role expectation-negative consequence hypothesis. The only one supported was the bidirectional discrepancy model proposed by Duckro, Beal, and George (1979), and the support for this was relatively weak. Finally, we examined the changes in client role preferences, anticipations, and behavior over the course of treatment as a function of outcome and treatment length. We found clear changes in role anticipations, preferences, and behavior for all dyads over time, and some of these changes were related to outcome. We discuss these results with respect to the process of relationship building.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-14
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of counseling psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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