The relationship between counselor use of religious terminology and rating of counselor credibility by high and low religious raters
Callison, Shaun Hamlett
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In order to facilitate successful therapy, numerous studies have sought to identify variables with which clients and counselors may be matched. Although the findings have been inconsistent, one variable which has received little attention is religion. Religion influences how one perceives the world. It has been reported that religious people have a tendency to distrust nonreligious counselors, and many counselors feel uncomfortable when religious issues are introduced during therapy. The present study investigated how the religiosity of raters and of counselors affected the perceived credibility of the counselor. The study predicted that there would be differences in how high and low religious raters would perceive the credibility of the religious versus nonreligious counselor. It was hypothesized that high religious raters would perceive the religious counselor as more credible than the nonreligious counselor. It was further predicted that the nonreligious counselors would be rated as more credible than the religious counselor by low religious raters. The dependent measure for credibility was the Counselor Rating Form (CRF). The raters were classified as high or low on religiosity based on the Callison Religiosity Scale (CRS). A mock counseling session was presented to the raters via video tape, and the raters evaluated the counselor's credibility. A 2x2 analysis of variance of CRF total and subscales was used to test the hypotheses. The study's findings indicated that there were no significant differences in the credibility ratings of religious versus nonreligious counselors. Nor were significant differences found in the credibility ratings of high versus low religious raters. The interactive effect of the raters' religiosity matched with the religiosity of the counselor also failed to obtain significance. However, further analysis suggested that the high religious raters tended to perceive the religious counselor as less credible than the nonreligious counselor, contradicting the study's expectation and the findings in the literature. Discussion of these results included the need for a cleared definition of religiosity and possible limitations of simulated versus live counseling.