The impact of accommodating client preference in psychotherapy: A meta-analysis

Joshua Swift, Jennifer Callahan, Michael Cooper, Susannah Parkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Client preferences in psychotherapy reflect specific conditions and activities that clients desire in their treatment, with increasing evidence pointing to preference accommodation as facilitating psychotherapy outcomes. This updated meta‐analysis establishes the magnitude of the effect of client preference accommodation in psychotherapy. Based on data from 53 studies and over 16,000 clients, preference accommodation was associated with fewer treatment dropouts (OR = 1.79) and more positive treatment outcomes (d = 0.28) than providing client with a nonpreferred treatment or psychotherapy condition. The preference effect was moderated by study design, timing and type of outcome measurement, and client diagnosis. It was not moderated by year of publication, treatment duration, preference type, treatment options, client age, client gender, client ethnicity, or client years of education. The authors provide a case example of preference accommodation and practice recommendations for working with client preferences.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Early online date8 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • client
  • matching
  • meta-analysis
  • preferences
  • psychotherapy
  • psychotherapy outcome
  • psychotherapy relationship

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