Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches and Lectures

Examining Identity Concealment and the Therapeutic Relationship among Psychology Trainees

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2021-08-02 to 2021-08-05

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Stigma pressures individuals with concealable, socially-devalued identities (e.g., minoritized sexual orientation, mental illness) to hide their true selves and suffer interpersonally in a variety of settings, including in the workplace. Identity concealment thwarts psychological needs of belongingness and authenticity. Yet, little is known about whether the disclosure of concealable stigmatized identities is associated with the therapeutic relationship between psychologist and client. The quality of the therapeutic relationship is one of the most robust predictors of treatment outcome. To test the hypothesis that identity concealment in the workplace and therapeutic relationship quality with clients are associated indirectly via belongingness and authenticity, a parallel mediation analysis was conducted on a sample of 335 clinical and counseling psychology doctoral students with concealable stigmatized identities using the PROCESS macro. As expected, identity concealment was associated with lower relationship quality indirectly through authenticity, b=-.04, SE=.01, 95% CI [-.0675,-.0153] and belongingness, b=-.05, SE=.02, 95% CI [-.0894,-.0117]. Findings suggest therapeutic relationship quality may be affected to the extent that trainees with concealable stigmatized identities live authentically and feel othered at their clinical training sites. Such knowledge can support the development of interventions and policies that foster safer, more welcoming work environments for trainees with concealable stigmatized identities.