Although psychotherapy has been viewed historically as value-neutral, developments over the last half-century have led to the generally accepted position that values are inescapable in therapy. However, many questions remain as to how values should be managed in psychotherapy in order to protect client autonomy. These issues are of particular concern to training programs, which bear the responsibility of instructing new psychologists in ethical values management and of helping trainees manage personal values when those values are in conflict with those of their clients or with the values of the field in general. One aspect that has not previously been investigated is the perceptions of trainees around value-related issues. This study used qualitative research methods to investigate the perceptions of recent psychology graduates regarding the role of values, value management strategies, training in value-related areas, and the resolution of value-related dilemmas. Seventeen recent graduates from Counseling Psychology, Clinical Psychology, or Professional Psychology doctoral programs were interviewed. Their responses led to following nine themes: 1. Psychology graduates disagreed about appropriate roles for therapist values. 2. Value differences between therapist and client were seen as both potentially harmful and potentially helpful. 3. Participants reported using different strategies to manage value differences. 4. Most participants felt it might be acceptable to influence a client to change their values in certain situations. 5. Participants did not report preferences regarding the value similarity of their clients and reported varying reactions to value differences. 6. Participants disagreed on whether trainees should be required to see clients with very different values. 7. Participants generally felt positive about their training experiences, but recommended more practical instruction in values management. 8. Participants' experiences with race and religion suggested unique training concerns. 9. Value-related decisions were seen as contextually grounded and based primarily on perceptions of beneficence. It is hoped that these findings further the dialogue on appropriate value management strategies in therapy and assist training programs in evaluating the training they provide students in areas of value differences and value conflicts.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





Values, Value conflicts, Value Management, Psychotherapy, Psychology Graduate Education, Predoctoral Internship, Multicultural Education