Stages of successful time-limited counseling: An interactional examination

Terence Tracey, Philip B. Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Six counselor/undergraduate dyads (the 3 most successful and the 3 least successful, as rated by client and counselor) were selected for intensive study from a sample pool of 15 dyads representative of time-limited counseling. It was hypothesized that successful counseling dyads would have 3 fairly distinct stages--high, low, and again high levels of complementarity--and that unsuccessful counseling dyads would not demonstrate this pattern. The sequence of topic-following/topic-initiation responses was used as an index of complementarity and was analyzed using a Markov chain model to test for differences in the sequence of topic responses over time. Moderate support was found for the hypothesized general stage model of high-low-high complementarity. The 3 successful dyads loosely fit the general pattern, but each showed individual variation in the length of each stage and the abruptness of stage changes. All 3 unsuccessful dyads had constant levels of complementarity over the course of counseling and thus did not fit the hypothesized model. (47 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-27
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1984
Externally publishedYes


  • interactional stage model of successful time-limited counseling, university counselors & their clients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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