REACTIONS OF BEGINNING PSYCHOTHERAPISTS TO PREMATURE TERMINATIONS OF CLIENTS
The purpose of this study was to explore the reactions of beginning psychotherapists to the premature and abrupt termination of a client from psychotherapy. The self-esteem levels of the subjects were examined in relation to their tendency to make internal or external attributions of causality for the termination of their clients. The concept of attribution was considered particularly applicable because attributional inferences are typically made following events which like premature termination are unexpected and characterized by a perception of failure. Self-esteem literature suggests that the differing defensive styles of high and low self-esteem individuals are related to attributional tendency following a failure situation. The operative hypothesis was that the subject's attribution of causality, that is, whether the subjects viewed the termination as having to do with factors internal or external to himself as therapist would be related to the subject's level of self-esteem. Since self-esteem literature posits two types of high self-esteem, a second hypothesis was that a relationship would exist between defensive high self-esteem, genuine high self-esteem and low self-esteem, and the therapist's direction of attribution. The 20 subjects were graduate students in doctoral and masters level programs in clinical and counseling psychology. The self-esteem and defensiveness measures were derived from the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale. The attributional data was derived from a semistructured interview which ascertained to what extent the therapist perceived the premature termination of the client as being related to internal, personal characteristics. The responses were rated on a one to five continuum of internal to external attribution of causality. The Fisher Exact Probability Scale was applied to the first hypothesis. Although subjects with low levels of self-esteem tended to be more internal in their attributions than subjects with high levels of self-esteem, the results failed to achieve significance. Chi-Squares were calculated between each of the three variables of the study taken two at a time. The results showed no relationship between attribution and self-esteem, attribution and defensiveness, or self-esteem and defensiveness.