Age Factors in Patient-Therapist Relationship

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This paper reports on the effects of therapist and patient age as factors in the evaluation and treatment of adult psychiatric outpatients. Therapist ratings and patient self-ratings are contrasted in three age groups. Rating scales include symptomatology, motivation, insight, and prognosis. In addition, a chart review follow-up of 68 patients includes disposition and drop-out. The data suggest that older patients are perceived as sicker, but less treatable than younger patients or patients of the same age group as the therapist. Residents express a strong preference for treating younger patients, but more readily develop a treatment relationship with same age patients. Both older and younger patients were significantly less likely to remain in treatment. Age of therapist and patient as a significant, frequent unrecognized factor in psychotherapeutic intervention is discussed and modifications in psychiatric training programs are suggested.

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