Effect of Client Race and Depression on Evaluations by White Therapists

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This study examined the effect of client race and depression level on global and interpersonal evaluations by white therapists. Sixty-two white therapists (23 male, 39 female), with at least Master's level training and/or 3 years of experience in individual psychotherapy, viewed a 3-minute segment of a scripted videotaped interaction between a “client” and “therapist.” The “client” was either a black or white female, enacting a depressed or nondepressed role. Each therapist viewed only one of the four conditions. As predicted, therapists held more negative evaluations of depressed versus nondepressed clients, and the combination of being black and depressed led to the most negative evaluations. Unexpectedly, black nondepressed clients were not rated more negatively than white nondepressed clients. Results are discussed in terms of possible explanations for the findings and their implications for therapy outcome.

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Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, v. 10, issue 3, p. 322-333