Experienced psychotherapists' reports of their assessments, predictions, and decision making in the early phase of psychotherapy

Psychotherapy (Chic). 2014 Jun;51(2):295-307. doi: 10.1037/a0029843. Epub 2012 Oct 15.


Thirteen highly experienced psychotherapists' retrospective accounts of their initial assessments, predictions, and decision making in recently completed psychotherapies were analyzed by the qualitative method of Grounded Theory. Three main categories were identified, reflecting conceptual, attitudinal, and procedural aspects of initial clinical judgments. These were category 1-"contextualized, individualized conceptualizations"; category 2-"attitude of openness to the unique other," and category 3-"feeling one's way." These results are discussed with respect to the theory and research on decision-making processes involving scripts and implicit reasoning, psychotherapist expertise and experience, and the working alliance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Competence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires