Therapist physical attractiveness: An unexplored influence on client disclosure

Steven M. Harris, Dean M. Busby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Existing research indicates that clients perceive facially attractive therapists as more competent, trustworthy, genuine, and effective than less attractive therapists. No studies exist to help explain how the therapist's attractiveness influences a client's self-disclosure. Participants (n = 241) were randomly assigned to one of eight experimental groups to test the interaction of the therapist's attractiveness, client's gender, the nature of presenting problem, and the client's comfort with disclosing in a hypothetical couple therapy scenario. Analysis of variance procedures established that most participants reported feeling more comfortable disclosing a benign (communication) problem than a potentially embarrassing (sexual) problem, and more comfortable disclosing problems to an attractive than to a less attractive female therapist. Therapists are encouraged to understand the power attractiveness may have in their own and their clients' lives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of marital and family therapy
Volume24
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1998

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