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TMatch: Client/Therapist Matching
Based on Client Openness

Short Restatement of Matching Recommendations

Openness (O) measures openness to new experiences, appreciation of culture and art, imagination, creativity, and rebelliousness. The higher clients are on O, the more their therapy should be provocative, imaginative, involve novel thinking and experiences, focus on self-exploration and discovery, and/or involve paradigm shifts. The lower clients are on O, the more their therapy should be straightforward, practical, symptom focused, educational, and supportive.

Client Assessments

Clients were assessed on the five domains of Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness using the NEO Five Factor Inventory, as described in the introduction page to matching using 5-factor personality theory.

Therapist Assessment

Therapists were assessed with two questions, the first of which used the exact wording from the matching recommendation:

  1. To what degree do either of these descriptions describe your therapy? (1 = Straightforward, practical, symptom-focused, educational, and supportive vs. 7 = Provocative, imaginative, involves novel thinking and experiences, focuses on self-exploration and discovery, and/or involves paradigm shifts).
  2. How much does your therapy focus on alleviation of symptoms, vs. on depth (underlying causes of problems)?

Future Use of Openness for Matching

Results of Study: Client Assessment

For all clients, including pilot testers, on a scale of 1-5, Openness had a mean of 4.17 (sd = 0.58). This is an extremely high mean, with an extremely small standard deviation. This result could be because all of the clients in this study lived in Marin County, California, which might be the Openness capital of the world.

Results of Study: Therapist Assessment

Question 1 is obviously the most important for this criterion, since it uses the direct words from the matching recommendation. For all therapists in the study, the mean was 4.97, with sd = 1.87. The standard deviation is reasonably high, but the mean is higher than desired. Because standard deviations are so sensitive to outliers, the high standard deviation is not as meaningful as if the mean were lower. If possible, this question should be separated into components and somewhat reworded to try to reduce the positive connotations on the side of "imaginative," "novel," and "paradigm shifts," which seem more positive than "straightforward" and "practical." The second question had a mean of 4.55, which was closer to the exact middle, but probably still needs some rewriting.

Results of Study: Matching Success

There was some quantitative and qualitative support from the study supporting this matching criterion.

The Next Step for Matching Based on Openness

It would definitely be worth trying this matching criterion again with improved assessments. As explained above, the therapist assessments should be rewritten and expanded. A major problem in the study was that the levels of client Openness were so high. If client levels of openness are this high in areas other than Marin County, California, perhaps the matching recommendation should be slanted toward a higher mean, by considering anything under 4 as low and only 5 as high. This should be tested by future studies.