2017 Winning Paper
Title: Dishonesty and Self-Concealment in Psychotherapy
Institution: Teachers College, Columbia University
Melanie Love is a rising fourth year doctoral student in clinical psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research with Dr. Barry Farber is focused on clients’ secrets and lies in psychotherapy – that is, what do clients find most difficult to talk about honestly in therapy, and how can therapists better facilitate disclosure? This work will be the focus of an upcoming book co-authored with Dr. Barry Farber and Matt Blanchard titled Lies and Secrets in Psychotherapy, to be published by the APA Press. Melanie has done her clinical training at the Dean Hope Center for Psychological Services, Fordham University’s Counseling and Psychological Services, and the Manhattan VA.
Paper Abstract: Objectives: This study sought to investigate client dishonesty in psychotherapy through the trait of self-concealment. We hypothesized that comparing low and high self-concealers would yield clinically significant differences in the nature, motives, and perceived consequences of client dishonesty. Method: A total of 572 psychotherapy clients reported via an online survey, using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, about what topics they were dishonest or avoidant about in therapy, as well as their reasons for being dishonest and their sense of how it affected therapy. Concealment status was assessed using the Self-Concealment to Therapist Scale (SCS-T), an adaptation of the original Self-Concealment Scale (Larson & Chastain, 1990). Results: 84% of respondents reported having been dishonest or avoidant about one or more topics in therapy, most often “details of my sex life” and “suicidal thoughts.” High self-concealers reported more relationally-oriented motives regarding their dishonesty (e.g., shame) and acknowledged more negative effects on therapy than low self-concealers. In contrast, the group of low self-concealers was more likely to report that non-disclosure was based on motives of practicality (e.g., managing their therapy time), and that they would be willing to disclose if the therapist were to ask them directly. Conclusions: Low and high self-concealers showed distinct patterns of motives, perceived consequences, and attitudes about facilitating disclosure in therapy. This suggests that self-concealment may be an important variable to consider in tailoring treatment and, specifically, in fostering greater and more honest client disclosure.
Enter the Annual Division of Psychotherapy Student Paper Competition
Annual Deadline is April 1
The Donald K. Freedheim Student Development Award for the best paper on psychotherapy theory, practice, or research.
What are the benefits to you?
- Cash prize of $500 for the winner.
- Enhance your curriculum vitae and gain national recognition.
- Plaque and check presented at the Division 29 Awards Ceremony at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.
- Abstract will be published in the Psychotherapy Bulletin, the official publication of the Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy.
What are the requirements?
- Papers must be based on work conducted by the first author during his/her graduate studies. Papers can be based on (but are not restricted to) a Masters thesis or a doctoral dissertation.
- Papers should be in APA style, not to exceed 25 pages in length (including tables, figures, and references) and should not list the authors’ names or academic affiliations.
- Please include a title page as part of a separate attached MS-Word or PDF document so that the papers can be judged “blind.” This page can include authors’ names and academic affiliations.
- Also include a cover letter as part of a separate attached MS-Word or PDF document. The cover letter should attest that the paper is based on work that the first author conducted while in graduate school. It should also include the first author’s mailing address, telephone number, and e-mail address.
- All applicants must be members of the Division of Psychotherapy. Join the Division at www.divisionofpsychotherapy.org
- Applicant must specify for which award he/she is applying. Applicants can submit multiple papers for awards, but an individual paper may only be submitted for a single award.
Submissions should be emailed to:
Nicholas Morrison, Chair, Student Development Committee, The Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Download the PDF for the Annual Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy Student Paper Competition
2016 – Amanda Zold, UAA-UAF, “Clients’ Perceptions of Personal Psychotherapy for Therapists”
2015 – Marilyn A. Cornish, PhD, paper completed during doctoral studies at Iowa State University, “Working Through Past Wrongdoing: Examination of a Self-Forgiveness Counseling Intervention”
2014 – Jenny H. Lotterman, Teachers College, Columbia University, “Erotic Feelings Toward the Therapist: A Relational Perspective”
2013 – Alexey Tolchinsky, George Washington University, “Acute Trauma In Adulthood in The Context of Childhood Traumatic Experiences”
2012 – Rebecca M. Ametrano, University of Massachusetts -Amherst, “Patient Outcome Expectations and Credibility Beliefs as Predictors of the Alliance and Treatment Outcome”
2011 – Jenelle Slavin-Mulford, MA, The Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, Adelphi University ”Therapeutic Interventions Related to Outcome in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy for Anxiety Disorder Patients”
2010 – Rebecca Stewart
2009 – no award given
2008 – Joshua K Swift, MS, Oklahoma State University, The Impact of Client Treatment Preferences on Outcome: A Meta-Analysis
2007 – Jesse A Metzger, Teachers College, Columbia University, “The Relationship Between Patients’ Representations of Therapists and Parents”
2006 – LaTanya A. Carter, M.A., Michigan State University
2005 – LaRicka R. Wingate
2003 and 2004 – No awards given
2002 – Susan S Woodhouse
2001 – Mary L. Malik, U of California, Santa Barbara
2000 – Jonathan Mohr, U. of Maryland, College Park
1999 – Georgios K Lampropoulos
1994 – 1st Place: Benjamin Johnson, Yale University
Hon. Mention: William A Hoganm Indiana State U
Jessica Beth Londa, Vanderbilt U.
William KJ. Lamb, U.C. Berkeley
1991 – 1st Place: Steven Herman, Rutgers U. “Therapist-client similarity as a predictor of psychotherapy outcome”
2nd Place: Maureen Corbet, U of Maryland. “A brief history of research on the process of individual psychotherapy”