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J Nerv Ment Dis. 1977 Apr;164(4):253-62.

A-B status and sex stereotyping among psychotherapists and patients. Toward a model for maximizing therapeutic potential.


Previous studies indicate that mental health professionals, when evaluating the mental health of males and females, sex role stereotype to the disparagement of females. Some feminists have further assumed that male therapists in particular discourage self-actualization of females, and have argued that female patients should be seen by female therapists only. This study examined the major hypothesis that among both male and female therapists and among both male and female patients, there may be identifiable kinds of therapists and patients who sex role stereotype more than others. A total of 240 subjects (male and female) were recruited from three populations: professional psychotherapists, medical and nursing students, and psychiatric patients. Each subject was administered an A-B therapist scale and a sex role stereotyping questionnaire. Analysis of variance of this 3 x 2 x 3 factorial study revealed: a) patient groups stereotyped significantly more than professional therapist groups (p less than .01), with student groups stereotyping intermediately; b) within each major group, male subjects stereotyped significantly more than their female counterparts (p less than .01); and c) within each male group and within each female group, A status subjects stereotyped significantly more than B status subjects (p less than .01), with AB status subjects stereotyping intermediately. Previous research has indicated that A status psychotherapists are more effective in treating schizophrenic disorders, while B status therapists are more effective in treating neurotic disorders. Since our results reveal a strong relationship between A-B status and degree of stereotyping, our discussion explores the possibility of differentially matching psychotherapists and patients in order to maximize therapeutic potential. Matching could be done according to complementary differences between psychotherapist and patient (in terms of A-B status and sex role stereotyping) or according to similarities between psychotherapist and patient, depending on whether reconstructive or supportive therapy is the objective. Sex of patient and therapist as well as diagnosis of the patient are other variables considered in the model for maximizing the therapeutic potential.

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