Patient SWAP-200 Personality Dimensions and FFM Traits: Do They Predict Therapist Responses?

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The main aim of this study was to examine the relationship between therapists’ emotional responses and patients’ personality evaluated by 3 dimensional diagnostic approaches empirically derived from the Shedler-Westen Assessment Procedure-200 (SWAP-200; Westen & Shedler, 1999a, 1999b): Two of these rely on the 5-factor model (FFM) domains, that were assessed with different SWAP-200 FFM versions developed by Shedler and Westen (SW-FFM scales; 2004) and McCrae, Löckenhoff, and Costa (MLC-FFM scales; 2005); the third approach is based on a multifaceted model of personality syndromes (SWAP personality dimension scales; see Shedler & Westen, 2004). A national sample of psychiatrists and psychologists (N = 166) of various theoretical orientations completed the Therapist Response Questionnaire (TRQ; Zittel Conklin & Westen, 2003) to identify patterns of therapist response, and the SWAP-200 to assess personality regarding a patient currently in their care. The findings showed good levels of construct validity between the SW-FFM and MLC-FFM scales, with the exception of the Openness trait. Moreover, specific SW-FFM and MLC-FFM scales were significantly associated with distinct SWAP personality dimension scales according in a conceptually meaningful nomological network. Although there were significant, theoretically coherent, and systematic relationships between therapists’ responses and patients’ personality features, overall the contribution of the SW-FFM and MLC-FFM traits in predicting therapists’ responses was less sizable than the SWAP personality dimensions. These results seem to confirm the diagnostic and therapeutic value of countertransference as an essential tool in understanding psychological traits/dimensions that underlie the patients’ psychopathology, both from within and outside of the FFM.

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