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TMatch: Client/Therapist Matching Based on
Client Preference for Therapist Demographics

Short Restatement of Matching Recommendations

Clients were matched to therapists based on how much their preferences for their therapists' age, sex, sexual orientation, race or ethnicity, economic background, marital status, and parental status matched these demographics of the therapist.

Client Assessments

Clients were given choices in each of these areas. If they had a choice, they were then asked how important it was that the therapist met this qualification. Thus, a client could ask for a female therapist, and state that this was extremely important, and also ask for a therapist who was older than 45, but state that this was not very important.

Therapist Assessments

Therapists were asked to rate themselves in the same demographic categories.

Why Not Match on Client/Therapist Similarity Instead of Client Preference?

For many years, researchers have been studying the efficacy of matching clients to therapists based on demographics, such as similarity of sex. The result of these studies has been that no matching by similarity has improved therapy results. Therefore, I decided to match by preference instead.

Future Use of Empathy Styles for Matching

Results of Study

This was an extremely useful and well-liked part of TMatch. Despite original misgivings, therapists were not reluctant at all to answer any of the demographic questions. Clients were very pleased to be given the opportunity to express these preferences. The only choice that may not have been useful was Parental Status. The usefulness of this area was hard to assess, since no therapists in the study indicated to their clients (self-disclosed) what their parental status was.

The Next Step for Matching Based on Empathy Style

This assessment should probably be retained as is, except that Parental Status should probably be removed. The most useful demographics for matching might be areas that clients could notice without therapist self-disclosure.

For more information, email Kenneth Frankel, Ph.D.