A Comparative Study of Variables Associated with Client Engagement In Assessment and Psychotherapy Services

Munday, Cheryl C., Whitney Carnicam, Katherine McCullough, and James Villanueva

Client engagement in psychology services varies across treatment settings with attrition rates commonly between 30-60%. Variables associated with attrition rates for individuals seeking mental health treatment include age, gender, race, ethnicity, education and income.  Previous research findings suggest low socioeconomic status may be differentially related to treatment attrition by racial and ethnic group membership.  In contrast, research exploring client characteristics associated with engagement and attrition for clients seeking assessment services is limited. In this exploratory study, two groups of clients seeking services at an urban university based psychology training clinic are compared.  A retrospective chart review provided data for clients seen during a two year period. Client engagement for the two groups is indicated by completion of an assessment battery or completion of four treatment sessions.  Correlation of age, gender, race and ethnicity with engagement among the treatment group is expected to replicate extant findings. Findings for both groups have implications for developing pre-treatment strategies to increase client engagement.