Theses Doctoral

The Nature, Motives, and Perceived Consequences of Therapist Dishonesty

Jackson, Devlin A.

Honest communication between therapists and their clients is an essential part of good psychotherapy. Previous research has examined the impact of dishonesty on the part of the client; however, the topic of therapist dishonesty has remained virtually unexplored. This study examined the prevalence, motivations, and perceived consequences of therapist dishonesty as part of the psychotherapy process. Specifically, the present study asked therapists to report the topics about which they are more and less likely to be less than completely honest with their clients in session and looked for common characteristics among therapists who reported being more frequently dishonest with their clients. Therapists’ reported motivations for and perceived consequences of dishonesty with their clients was also examined. Findings revealed that the vast majority of therapists report having been dishonest with their clients at least once and that therapists are significantly more likely to engage in covert dishonesty than overt dishonesty. Most therapists described using dishonesty in service of their clients’ therapy or wellbeing and with no perceived negative consequences. Novice therapists reported using dishonesty with their clients more frequently than therapists with more years of experience. The use of dishonesty and its relationship to therapist disclosure, clinical tact, and the role of hope in psychotherapy is discussed. Directions for future research, as well as implications for training programs and ethical guidelines put forth by the American Psychological Association, are discussed.


  • thumnail for Jackson_columbia_0054D_16100.pdf Jackson_columbia_0054D_16100.pdf application/pdf 841 KB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Farber, Barry A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 3, 2020