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How To Know If A Therapist Likes You? A Clinical Psychology Podcast Episode.

clinical psychology, psychotherapy, mental health

Whilst this psychology podcast is always aimed at university psychology students and psychology professions, it’s always to learn how our client sees us. Whether you’re interested in clinical psychology or you’re a clinical psychologist, this will be a great enlightening episode for you!

This psychology podcast episode has been sponsored by Formulation In Psychotherapy. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can get the paperback, large print and hardback versions from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.

Like Working With Certain People

Personally I really understand why some clinical psychologists feel guilt or shame over preferring to work with a certain population or certain people. Since in clinical psychology, we tend to work with children and adolescents, working aged adults, learning disabilities and retired people.

If I had to choose I would probably guess I would prefer to work with working-aged adults for various reasons. And as I write this, I do felt a bit guilty but it’s a guess. Mainly because I’m only a clinical psychology student.

Equally, I know some therapists love working with certain people because they’re fun, easy to work with, they’re interested in the therapeutic success amongst others reasons.

However, this is perfectly normal to feel like this, so if you’re a clinical psychologist then please don’t feel bad because of these feelings.

Traits That Make Clients More Likeable To Therapist

It turns out there are certain traits that can come clients more likeable to therapists as suggested by Schofeild (1964) because he suggested youthfulness, attractiveness, verbal, intelligent and successfulness are traits that can make clients more appealing to therapists.

These traits are collectively referred to as YAVIS.

I know some of these traits seem odd and outrageous because youthful and being attractive is subjective. And it’s the job of clinical psychologists to help everyone in need so the idea of their being traits that more a person more appealing is outrageous.

This is made even worse by the finding of Hodgkinson, Godoy, Beers, & Lewin (2017) that found people who are from lower socioeconomic backgrounds experience poor mental health treatment than those from richer areas.

Again, not very good.

However, as I’ll talk about below some of these traits aren’t what you think.

Clinical Psychology and The YAVIS Traits:

Before I explain what these traits are in more depth, we need to look at why are they important? After all this research and suggestion was made in 1964.

We need to look at this because there’s some that suggest these biases are still present and haven’t gone away. (Teasdale and Hill, 2006; Tyron, 1986) As well as whilst it’s hard to prove we can all guess that therapists might not want to admit they’re aware of these biases.

Although, there is an argument from Steve Alexander. Jr. M.A, Ed. M, ARM, LMHC. That these biases can be used to help therapists enhance their interpersonal skills and everyone can improve in one way or another.

The YAVIS Traits:

· Youthful- interestingly enough this isn’t about how young you are. In fact, this is about how you relate to others and being open minded to new ideas and experiences. Think of this as a young mindset if we look at stereotypes. With some older people having a young mindset but some young people don’t.

· Attractive- you only need to read my Psychology of Relationships book to know how attractive people are treated better than unattractive ones. With there being a lot of different effects resulting from being attractive.

In terms of therapy, it’s important to note physical attractiveness isn’t the whole story because real, honest, authentic people are also rated as more attracted. Therefore, practising the expression of your feelings and thoughts in an honest way could be useful.

· Verbal- whilst the 1964 term is a bit outdated because we now value people with learning disabilities and other conditions that render speech impossible or difficult. The entire idea of this trait is expressive due to we tend to like people who express themselves openly and aren’t closed off.

Returning to therapy, I can fully understand why a clinical psychologist or therapist wouldn’t like a person who’s hard work and you need to do a lot of hard work to get them to express themselves. Compared to an expressive and easy to work with person. It may safe unfair but everyone needs to think of each other.

· Intelligent- back in 1964 Schofield was referring to education level here but a better way of looking at this trait would be the ability of a client to critically think about themselves and have self-awareness. Since self-awareness is important in developing as well as maintaining relationships. Which as we know in clinical psychology is extremely important with the therapeutic alliance.

And as a special note to clinical psychologists, students and therapists here, it’s helpful to learn about the experience of other people. As this can help you relate to them through their experiences. It’s about having an awareness of other people that didn’t grow up in the same culture, background and experience as you.

· Successful- this point isn’t necessarily about money, power and the traditional measurements of success. But motivation is another key factor because in all honesty if you see a client that’s motivated to do well in therapy and wants it to be successful. Then you’re going to want to work with them personally because their motivation and passion will probably infect you. And that could make the process even more fun.


In all honesty, whilst I don’t agree with everything Schofield said or implied. I still think it’s always important to be aware of the possible biases we can face as clinical psychologists (be it now or in the future) and it shows the importance of reflecting and challenging ourselves.

Also at the end of the day, it isn’t the job of a therapist to appeal to all clients, and vice versa. As clinical psychologists, it’s our job to try and help alleviate psychological distress and improve lives as much as we can by trying as hard as we can.

Sometimes this process is easier than other times. But that’s part of the fun of clinical psychology!

I really hope you enjoyed today’s episode.

If you want to learn more, please check out:

Formulation In Psychotherapy. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can get the paperback, large print and hardback versions from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it.

Have a great day!

Clinical Psychology References

Dossinger, K., Wanberg, C. R., Choi, Y., & Leslie, L. M. (2019). The beauty premium: The role of organizational sponsorship in the relationship between physical attractiveness and early career salaries. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 112, 109-121.

Hodgkinson, S., Godoy, L., Beers, L. S., & Lewin, A. (2017). Improving mental health access for low-income children and families in the primary care setting. Pediatrics, 139(1).

Teasdale, A. C., & Hill, C. E. (2006). Preferences of therapists-in-training for client characteristics. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 43(1), 111.

Tryon, G. S. (1986). Client and counselor characteristics and engagement in counseling. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 33(4), 471.

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