Theses Doctoral

Effects of Client HIV Status and Race on Therapeutic Impressions of Counselor Trainees

Chen, Yu-Kang

Working with HIV-positive individuals may present a particular challenge to clinicians because of the phenomenon of stigma. Researchers have proposed that HIV stigma is layered with people's prejudiced attitudes toward already-stigmatized groups (e.g., sexual orientation, gender, race and ethnicity) in which people living with HIV/AIDS may have membership. Previous research has suggested that, clinicians' attitudes and reactions toward HIV and sexual orientation may significantly impact their therapeutic impressions, yet questions remain with regard to how clients' HIV status and racial identity may operate in confluence to influence clinicians' therapeutic impressions. This question may be particularly significant with regard to mental health professionals, as research also suggests that racial/ethnic minority clients can be perceived by their clinicians as more disturbed as a result of clinicians' biased racial attitudes. In the present study, case vignettes featuring hypothetical Black or White men who are either HIV-positive or HIV-negative were presented to participants to explore the influence of a client's HIV status and race upon participants' therapeutic impressions. Results indicated that participants' expectations of therapeutic process and evaluations of the clients' symptomatology were influenced by the clients' race and HIV status. Participants expected slightly greater session depth for the Black clients than the White clients in the vignettes, and their initial impressions of symptomatology were also slightly more negative toward the White clients in the vignettes. With regard to the main effect of client HIV status, participants expected slightly greater session depth for the HIV-positive clients than the HIV-negative clients in the vignettes. However, participants expected slightly less session smoothness for the HIV-positive clients in the vignettes, and they also reported lower assessment of psychological, occupational, and social functioning toward the HIV-positive clients in the vignettes. The potential interaction of the hypothetical client's race and HIV status and its effect upon participants' clinical impressions was not found significant. Implications for research and practice are discussed.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Smith, Laura
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 15, 2014