Date of Award

Summer 1-1-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy Degree In Urban Education: Counseling Psychology Specialization


Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Phillips, Julia

Second Advisor

Kelly Yu-Hsin Liao

Third Advisor

Cathleen Lewandowski


Attending to clients’ therapy preferences is a component of evidence-based practice in psychology. Regarding therapist characteristics, clients most often express preference for therapist gender. More specifically, men and women tend to express preference for a woman therapist for emotional concerns. Evidence-based models for attending to clients’ preferences recommend understanding the nature of their preferences. There is little empirical data, however, on what informs clients’ gender preferences, and most is from women participants. Thus, there is a particular need to better understand the nature of men’s preferences for therapist gender, especially as men under-utilize and drop out of therapy at greater rates than women. Men’s gender role socialization—particularly traditional masculinity ideology, masculine norm conformity and gender role conflict — often predicts men’s therapy-related behavior. Given that these constructs involve restrictive emotionality and restrictive affection between other men, this study examined whether men’s adherence to them predicted the likelihood of expressing a preference for a woman therapist for an emotional concern. Participants also provided brief responses explaining the nature of their preference. From a non-clinical sample of 168 adults who identify as men, logistic regression results supported that one factor of gender role conflict predicted greater likelihood of preference for a woman therapist for an emotional concern, while one factor of traditional masculinity ideology predicted greater likelihood of preference for a man therapist. Participants’ qualitative responses were coded and vii reviewed. Implications for research and practice to optimize therapist assignment and to engage and retain men in therapy are discussed.