Expectations and preferences for counseling as a function of the religious orientation of subjects and counselors

Pecnik, Julia
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This research attempted to amplify the literature on expectations and preferences for counseling by exploring Christian and non-Christian subjects' expectations and preferences for counseling with a Christian or traditional counselor. After reading a description of either a professional counselor with no identified religious orientation in counseling or a professional counselor described as a Christian counselor, the 209 subjects in Study 1 completed a modified version of Tinsley's (1982) Expectations About Counseling: Brief Form (EAC-BF) and the Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scales (1960). Subjects were blocked on religious orientation from their responses to the Shepherd Scale (Bassett et al., 1981), an inventory of Christian beliefs, with the highest scoring third labeled "Christian" and the lowest scoring third labeled "non-Christian." Analyses of the data from these 140 subjects revealed differences in expectations as a function of subject's sex, subject's religious orientation, and counselor's orientation. A significant subject's religious orientation by counselor's orientation interaction was not obtained;Using a virtually identical methodology, 215 subjects in Study 2 completed a modified version of the EAC-BF designed to assess subjects' preferences for counseling. Analyses of the data from the 146 Christian and non-Christian subjects only revealed differences in preferences for counseling as a function of subject's sex and subject's religious orientation. Social desirability failed to account for a significant portion of the variance in either study;The results of these two studies are discussed with respect to the existing literature on expectations, preferences, and sex-role stereotyping. Further, the results which suggested a questionable role of religious behaviors in counseling and for the lesser expertise of Christian counselors as compared to traditional counselors are elaborated. Implications of these results for research and the practice of Christian counseling are discussed.