Australian Psychologist

Published by Australian Psychological Society
Online ISSN: 1742-9544
Print ISSN: 0005-0067
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The codes of ethical conduct of the Australian Psychological Society and the American Psychological Association imply that researchers of adolescent depression and suicidal behaviour must plan to intervene to assess risk where a participant in a study indicates an intention to commit suicide. Participants in research of this kind need to be advised of this possibility in advance. The obligation to intervene, and to advise of the possibility of intervention, pose practical and methodological problems for research in this area but do not, it is argued, absolve the researcher of the primary responsibility to contribute to the welfare of the research participant.
 
Percentage of Adolescents Agreeing that Confidential Information Should be Disclosed by Situation and Third Party, and Percentage Saying that Information Should be Disclosed to No-one. 
It is increasingly acknowledged that confidentiality is relative rather than absolute in any counselling relationship. This is particularly the case for minors receiving counselling at school, where third parties such as parents and teachers frequently have access to information about an adolescent client. The Australian Psychological Society's Code of Professional Conduct (1986) states that minors are unable to provide voluntary, informed consent in consulting relationships, although current research does not necessarily support this view. The current study investigated adolescents' attitudes to confidentiality in situations that may commonly arise in school counselling. The study also investigated the third parties to whom adolescents believed information should be disclosed by a counsellor. Respondents were 303 male and 254 female students attending three single-sex nongovernment schools. Ages ranged from 13 to 18 years. Results suggested that the adolescents' attitudes to confidentiality generally corresponded with adult views. Many adolescents wanted more autonomy regarding disclosure of information obtained in a counselling situation than the APS code provides. Parents were the only third party to whom the adolescents generally believed disclosure should be made. There were few age differences, but a wide range of opinions were evident, with female adolescents consistently more strongly in favor of confidentiality than males.
 
In a review of the literature, very little empirically based research was uncovered to guide the practice of health professionals who need to tell their patients bad news and help them to decide on their preferred treatment option. Various practising styles and guidelines are presented, and ethical and crosscultural challenges discussed. An enormous amount of research still needs to be done to discover the least stressful ways of dealing with these issues in health care settings.
 
Two hundred and fifty-six members of the Australian public were surveyed regarding situations in which a psychologist might breach confidentiality and third parties to whom information might be disclosed. There was strong agreement between respondents' expectations about the way in which psychologists would act, and their preferences regarding how psychologists should act. While respondents supported confidentiality within the psychotherapeutic relationship, they clearly distinguished situations in which, and third parties to whom, disclosure could appropriately occur. Disclosure was expected and preferred when a client revealed a murder (planned or confessed), suicide plans, child abuse, or treason, and where the recipients of the information were colleagues of the psychologist or parents of a client younger than 13 years. Compared to nonparents, parents more strongly supported disclosure regarding illegal drug use and child abuse, and believed that parents should have access to a child's records. In general, respondents' view of the way in which psychologists should treat confidentiality issues were consistent with the guidelines prescribed by the Australian Psychological Society in the Code of Professional Conduct (1986).
 
Although the principle of confidentiality in the relationship between psychologists and client has been vaunted, and is emphasised in the Australian Psychological Society's Code of Professional Conduct (the APS code; 1994), the confidentiality of this relationship is circumscribed by the absence of legal protections, the ethical beliefs of psychologists, institutional practices, and the provisions of the APS code itself. Lack of privilege in judicial proceedings, and statutory obligations to report certain types of behaviour, mandate breaches of confidentiality in some circumstances. Ethical beliefs of psychologists may support disclosure, especially where it is believed that there is danger of serious physical harm to the client or others. Multidisciplinary teams and institutional settings require the exchange of information for optimal delivery of services. Recent amendments to the APS code may require disclosure without the client's consent when a client is believed to be suicidal. Such developments, when considered at all, are typically regarded as exceptions to a general obligation of confidentiality. However, discussion of exceptions presupposes agreement on fundamental principle: the significance of, and rationale for, confidentiality in the psychologist-client relationship. It is argued in this paper that the obligation of confidentiality has been assumed rather than vigorously analysed and empirically explored. A critical examination of this obligation is the most appropriate starting point for the rehabilitation of contemporary principles of confidentiality in the psychologist-client relationship.
 
This essay aims to briefly summarise the collection of articles on confidentiality issues in psychology, and to highlight apparently conflicting opinions about the confidentiality rule. Conflicts are then analysed in terms of competing systems of ethics. Finally, the role for ethics education in psychology education and training is considered.
 
Confidentiality has long been a cornerstone of trust in the professional relationship between psychologists and their clients. Developments in computer technology, litigation, insurance reimbursement schemes, and changing lifestyles are forcing psychologists to reconsider and refine their approach to respecting this important ethical principle. This article review basic concepts on the matter, and discusses these in light of evolving issues in practice, technology, and the law. Some contrasts in legal and ethical aspects of confidentiality between Australia and the United States are discussed. Recommendations for enhancing attention to confidentiality in one's practice are included.
 
There has been increased attention in recent years to the importance of individual privacy and professional confidentiality both in Australia and overseas. At the same time, psychologists' growing research interests in areas such as AIDS, child sexual abuse, and domestic violence have led to new ethical dilemmas over the contract of confidentiality between researchers and their research participants. The present paper discusses a number of issues regarding the ethics of confidentiality in psychological research. Following Bok (1989), the issues are highlighted within the context of four ethical principles that underlie researchers' obligations to preserve confidentiality. These principles are derived from considerations of privacy, loyalty, the pledge of silence, and professional codes of ethical standards. Each of these principles is illustrated with examples taken from recent research. We devote special attention to instances that appear to provide a clash between moral principles.
 
Although professional counsellors would be aware of the need to maintain confidentiality in their work with clients, the basis and scope of this obligation is generally less well understood. This article examines the issue of counsellor-client confidentiality from a legal perspective, and considers the potential bases of legal liability which counsellors may have with respect to the maintenance of client confidentiality as well as the circumstances under which disclosure of this information will be required or may be permitted. It is contended that the general issue of counsellor-client confidentiality presently poses particular difficulties for counsellors who work primarily with children and adolescents, especially when clinical services are provided directly to adolescents. In such instances, counsellors may be confronted by competing and even conflicting interests, and may be required to exercise judgement in relation to the disclosure of confidential information which has been provided by a minor. Although there is no clear law which directly relates to this area, it is argued that counsellors may presently have a primary obligation to respect the wishes which are expressed by a "mature minor" in relation to the provision of counselling services. It is further argued that awareness of general legal principles which are of relevance to areas of professional practice can provide much assistance to practitioners who could be required to make decisions in the course of their work which may later be examined in the context of legal proceedings.
 
In this commentary, I provide a brief background of the meta-experience of emotions, the philosophical and psychological literature on happiness, and further discuss the influence of culture on happiness. The meta-experience of emotions implies that there are primary and secondary emotions (i.e., emotions about emotions), similar to the concept of meta-cognitions. Primary and secondary emotions are closely associated with one's cultural background and happiness. Most scholars throughout history believe that happiness per se cannot be taught. However, it is possible to teach practices that lead to the path toward happiness. Promising strategies include loving-kindness and compassion meditation. These strategies are based on Buddhist teachings, which are deeply rooted in a collectivistic culture. This illustrates the close association between emotions, approaches towards happiness, and cultural background.
 
Fifty-one practising scientists made Q-sorts of 90 statements relating to scientific fraud and impropriety. Principal components analysis identified two major groups. Members of the first group (N=18) seemed to support the standard, or received, view about the nature of science and to interpret scientific fraud and impropriety in terms of the individual shortcomings of deviant scientists. Members of the second group (N=7) seemed to adopt a more critical position about the nature of science and were more likely to construe scientific fraud and impropriety as anticipated aspects of the operation of a human social institution. Some implications of these findings for an understanding of the current debate on scientific fraud and impropriety are considered.
 
Intrusion upon people rendered relatively helpless, withholding of information and abuse of confidentiality, are examples of behaviour by psychologists which point to an element of presumption in their manner of operating. The rights of clients are not respected by this type of professional practice. In both research and professional work, psychologists have employed techniques involving coercion, deception, concealment and stress. Such practices have been perpetuated by psychologists' concern with status, by their allegiance to institutions as clients, in a word, by the professionalization of psychology. The remnants of the classical behaviourist paradigm, with its emphasis upon behaviour under exclusive external control, continues to produce serious limitations in contemporary psychological theorizing. As a result, problems arise concerning the “ethics” of psychologists' conduct. But because the behaviourist paradigm is arguably at the base of this problem it may be better to conceive the issue not so much in terms of morals as of methodology.
 
Notes on the beginnings of experimental Psychology in the northern hemisphere and in Australia, with a descriptive inventory of items of early laboratory apparatus currently on display at the University of Sydney.
 
This paper presents an alternative approach to the analysis of Pryor's (1989) dilemma. This approach is based on Kohlberg's Theory of Moral Development.
 
This article is a critical review of Hunter's (1991) socio-historical explanation of Aboriginal violence. The article is faulted on a number of counts, including the explanatory schema provided, the logic of the larger argument, the simplistic casting of psychological and social science understandings of violent behaviour and intercultural conflict, confounded levels of analysis, critical literature omissions, and with respect to the account provided of another culture's experience.The conclusion of the review is that Hunter's analysis does not provide an acceptable or useful social science account of intercultural or intracultural “violence” in Aboriginal society. An alternative constructionist framework is suggested which acknowledges the cultural relativity and inherent attributional biases of such “socio-historical” accounts of other culture experiences such as contact history and violence.
 
James (1994) discusses the intersection of psychology and health. He reviews the role of behaviour in morbidity and premature mortality, the rising costs and dubious benefits of curative medicine, the role of behaviour in preventing and alleviating chronic disease, and the importance of behavioural outcomes in health and disease. While James makes a good case for these points, his conclusion, that psychologists' response to these major health-care issues should be to disseminate psychological knowledge to healthcare workers, can be questioned. Like many apparently convincing arguments, this one makes its point by adopting an artificially limited perspective. James' article takes a limited perspective on psychology, on health, and on how psychology may influence society.
 
This comment deals with the matters of deterrence and exemplary sentencing, mitigation and the roles of psychiatry and psychology, remorse and contemplating of risk taking, and the factors that Influence perceptions of parity in sentencing which Indermaur has overlooked or failed to address successfully.
 
Davidson (1995) proposed a multiaxial model of cognitive assessment that could be used to assess indigenous Australians. In this comment, I do not question whether Davidson's model might be an effective way of gaining important information about a person's cognitive functioning, but I do question the appropriateness and the necessity of developing an assessment model specifically for indigenous Australians. I argue that such a racially specific approach to assessment is based on inappropriate racial stereotyping, a confounding of cultural (categorical) variables with individual differences (continuous) variables, and a misrepresentation of evidence on cultural bias in cognitive abilities tests. In the context of a multicultural society, it is essential to recognise that psychological inferences about an individual must be based on an assessment process that is designed to gain knowledge of the individual as an individual.
 
Dyck (1996) has erred in his criticism of Davidson's (1995) proposal for a multiaxial model of indigenous cognitive assessment. His account of the literature offered in support of his viewpoint does not correspond with those authors' accounts. He misinterprets culturocentrism as racism and misunderstands the concept of culture. In attempting to separate the individual client from his or her cultural context he pursues a concept of “individual as an individual” that is unattainable, and an approach to cognitive abilities testing that is ethically questionable.
 
This essay takes up a number of the themes highlighted in the paper “Psychology as History, and the Biological Renaissance” (Butler, 1998), and also specifically addresses elements of the three commentaries invited in response to that paper which appear in the current issue of Australian Psychologist (Davidson, 1998; Reser, 1998; Stankov, 1998). Although aspects of these commentaries are challenged, each is seen as making a contribution to debate on issues of race and social justice in contemporary Australia and, more generally, on the wider implications of historicist-contextualist analysis of psychological inquiry. The paper concludes with a discussion of the emergence of constructive or revisionary postmodernism, a perspective which appears to offer the possibility of an overdue “transformation” of psychological practice.
 
South's (1998) comments on Sanson et al. (1996) raise a number of issues relating to the general application of psychological theory to road safety research, and in particular the validity of the theoretical construct of general deterrence to driver behaviour. This comment on South suggests that road safety research, rather than psychology, is in need of a broader focus.
 
It is not widely understood that the High Court decision in the case Mabo and Others v. State of Queensland (1992) was both good news and bad news for Indigenous people. Nor is it understood that the Native Title Act (1993) was primarily aimed not at recognition of native title but to accommodate and give security to every other existing stakeholder in land, so that the new recognition of the pre-existing rights of Australia's Indigenous people would not challenge or undermine them.This paper examines phases in Australian governments' responses to Aboriginal rights from a psycho-political perspective. Denial and projection are seen to be operating in the various stances or approaches to the issue of native title by the major parties involved. The ongoing need for the acknowledgment and recognition of wrongdoing and dialogue are seen as precursors of genuine reconciliation between Aboriginal and other Australians. The analogy of theft and the application of the restorative justice concept are discussed in relation to these issues in the political arena. The way in which racism and prejudice are raised and perpetuated is related to the theory of “images of the enemy”, and the way false perceptions are propagated is also discussed. The approaches taken by recent governments are seen to bring the notion of terra nullius — the empty land — into the 1990s. Support for the arguments presented in this paper is provided by the recent decision by the United Nations' Human Rights Committee, which found Australia's 1998 “10 point plan” version of the Native Title Act to be racist and discriminatory.
 
The purpose of this paper was to update the Guldberg & Sivaciyan (1995) estimates of the value of psychology based on 1991 figures. In addition, this paper expands the scope of their work by including comparisons of other related professional groups (those with tertiary training in psychiatry, mental health nursing, social work, counselling, occupational therapy and human resources). Economic modelling indicated that psychology contributes $8.6 billion to the National economy – some 500% more than in 1991, and more than all other related professional groups combined. However, psychology incomes in most sectors have marginally decreased in real terms, and still lag 9.2% behind related professionals. The number of individuals trained in psychology has also risen dramatically to at least 37 978. Many of these individuals (17 364) have only a bachelor degree, and experience a higher rate of unemployment than both their higher qualified peers in psychology, and the national average for individuals with the same level of qualification. The ongoing lack of Federal funding for professional higher degrees, and the training guidelines of the Australian Psychological Society are likely to lead to rises in the cost of postgraduate education in the coming years. There is nonetheless a substantial economic advantage to students undertaking professional higher degrees in psychology. The implications for the profession of psychology are discussed.
 
Davidson, Garton, and Joyce (Australian Psychologist 2003; 38: 216–222) report a recent survey of ethics education for psychologists and recommend changes in ethics curricula at universities in order to meet Australian Psychological Society (APS) guidelines. Although they outline some of the benefits of ethics education, their advocacy of formal ethics training can be supported more powerfully by arguments based on the nature of ethical thinking itself. They suggest a three-stage model for ethics education through Years 1–7 of training in psychology. A sequential approach is desirable and a slightly revised model is suggested. Finally, ways in which the APS can support universities in their teaching of ethics are outlined.
 
Previously published research by the authors which analysed 2080 MMPI-2 protocols of personal injury claimants assessed in a forensic psychiatry practice challenged the validity of code-type-based interpretations, the role the MMPI-2 plays in differential diagnosis, and assumptions made regarding diagnostically-specific patterns on the test. Although over 2 years old, this work was recently criticised by Butcher and Ben-Porath (2004) and the present article is a reply to those criticisms and concludes again the importance of empirical accuracy and an active hypothesis-testing approach.
 
Despite their widespread use, many self-report mood scales have very limited normative data. To rectify this, Crawford et al. have recently provided percentile norms for a series of self-report scales. The present study aimed to extend the work of Crawford et al. by providing percentile norms for additional mood scales based on samples drawn from the general Australian adult population. Participants completed a series of self-report mood scales. The resultant normative data were incorporated into a computer programme that provides point and interval estimates of the percentile ranks corresponding to raw scores for each of the scales. The programme can be used to obtain point and interval estimates of the percentile ranks of an individual's raw scores on the Beck Anxiety Inventory, the Beck Depression Inventory, the Carroll Rating Scale for Depression, the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Rating Scale for Depression, the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scales (DASS), the short-form version of the DASS (DASS-21), the Self-rating Scale for Anxiety, the Self-rating Scale for Depression, the State–Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), form X, and the STAI, form Y, based on normative sample sizes ranging from 497 to 769. The interval estimates can be obtained using either classical or Bayesian methods as preferred. The programme (which can be downloaded at http://www.abdn.ac.uk/~psy086/dept/MoodScore_Aus.htm) provides a convenient and reliable means of obtaining the percentile ranks of individuals' raw scores on self-report mood scales.
 
This study utilised the constructs employed in Schulz and Decker's (1985) study of the long-term adjustment of 100 middle-aged and elderly persons who had lived with spinal cord injury (SCI) for an average of 20 years. In a major departure from that study, a relatively younger group of persons with traumatic SCI was interviewed an average of 11 years after onset of disability. They answered questions concerning perceived control, health status, social support, satisfaction with social contact, and, in addition, recent life events. Three standardised instruments, the life satisfaction and depression scales utilised by Schulz and Decker, and a vocational identity scale were used to measure adjustment. Although the respondents reported mean levels of adjustment that were similar to those of Schulz and Decker's older group, they reported a greater degree of social support and perceived health status than the older group. Otherwise, the results confirmed Schulz and Decker's conclusions concerning the importance of perceived control and satisfying social contact as major predictors of adjustment. These findings were not mediated by age, time since the onset of injury, or severity of injury.
 
The McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities (MSCA) has been suggested as a potential device for early screening of children with learning difficulties. Two suggested MSCA short form tests combining six subtests, one selected by an a priori method and the other from a regression analysis method, were investigated using a sample of 41 Victorian children between the ages of two-and-a-half to eight-and-a-quarter years. A correlation of over .80 was obtained between the scores of the children on the full form of the MSCA and both short form tests. The advantages of the use of the a priori test over the test developed from the empirical method is discussed.
 
This paper examines cultural and developmental issues injustice for child offenders with special reference to Aboriginal youth. Methods of interrogation during police interviews are considered as a means to prompt children to give compliant answers. Further, the social knowledge of children may differ from that of adults, particularly in situations where cultural minorities such as Aborigines are involved. to illustrate, the case of an Aboriginal youth charged with the rape of his five-year-old cousin is discussed. The boy was given measures of social knowledge and the results were entered as evidence at the time of sentence. In this context, the role and prospects for psychological evidence on criminal responsibility in children are discussed.
 
A recent application of word association data has been in studies of differences in language habits between culturally advantaged and culturally disadvantaged groups of children. Aultman (1970) provides some evidence of differences in the content of associative responses from children of comparable chronological age but diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Entwhistle (1970) found that word associations of first-grade children indicate that black and white slum children were more advanced linguistically than are suburban children in the U.S., but that the superiority had disappeared by the third grade and was followed by a cumulative decline. The early superiority was judged on the similarity of the type of response to that commonly made by adults. Entwhistle suggests that a factor in this early acceleration may be the slum child's almost unlimited access to the TV set, as compared with the restrictions usually placed on the suburban first-grader in terms of time and content.
 
Until recently the majority of psychologists in Australia have been confronted by the lack of information relating to culturally appropriate methods of engagement and therapy with Aboriginal clients. Findings from a qualitative study undertaken in Western Australia indicated that Aboriginal conceptualisations of mental health appear more holistic and contain elements that are both cultural and spiritual. The extent of these differences in conceptualisations from Western psychiatry and psychology are so vast that the mental health interventions need to be reconsidered. Extending from an Aboriginal mental health model are traditional treatments that endeavour to address the cultural and spiritual components of the mental illness. Findings from the study indicated that these treatments appeared to be hierarchically organised, depending on cause, severity, type of practitioner required and treatment. The findings also indicated that Aboriginal people generally seek traditional interpretations and treatment of an illness and exhaust these avenues prior to contact with the Western mental health system. The research also delineated Aboriginal beliefs about Western psychotherapy, including conceptions about Western therapy. The authors propose an engagement model, including formative preparation, for non-Aboriginal practitioners intending to work with the Aboriginal community.
 
Despite growing awareness regarding the reality of child sexual abuse (CSA), a paucity of studies have examined whether the determinants, risk factors, and aftermath of CSA differ between male and female victims. This paper attempts to provide an empirical and conceptual review of research findings to date. There is evidence that CSA against boys is under-reported, and that male victims are given less counselling than females, despite the prevalence of comparable psychological sequelae. It is argued that further research into gender differences associated with CSA needs to be conducted because the conclusions of existing studies are tenuous. Future research may (a) lead to an elaboration and assessment of current conceptualisations of CSA that predominantly focus on female victims, and (b) facilitate the development and implementation of gender-based public policy in relation to CSA.
 
Little systematic research has been conducted in Australia to develop a picture of women's experiences of violence and abuse across their lifetimes. The present study was designed to address this deficiency by assessing the prevalence of different types of abuse, the situations in which they occur, how women have coped, and the effect of abusive encounters on general health and wellbeing. Using self-report questionnaires, data were obtained from 1,159 women aged 48 to 53, previously recruited in the Women's Health Australia longitudinal project. Measures included descriptors of the abuse and help-seeking behaviours, and measures of general wellbeing and depression. The most frequently reported forms of abuse were emotional, physical, and sexual. These overwhelmingly occurred in the home, and across all life stages, but mostly in adulthood on an occasional or weekly basis. Perpetrators were usually persons known to the victim. Most abusive encounters were not recent but, when experienced, had persisted over time and had negatively affected mental and physical health. The majority of women had discussed their circumstances with close relatives, friends, or professional persons. One-third of respondents had reported abusive episodes to the police, and almost half of these had found it helpful to do so. The data show that abuse is a fact of life for many Australian women and demonstrate a continuing need for appropriate prevention and intervention strategies.
 
Anecdotal evidence suggests that Australian students of Asian background are performing very highly in secondary and tertiary education. However, there is little empirical evidence to support this ethnic stereotype. The present study investigated Chinese Australian students' academic achievement, IQ, time spent studying, and causal attributions for academic success and failure. Based on the findings of North American research, it was hypothesised that the Chinese Australian students would have higher academic achievement than Anglo-Australian students of the same level of ability. It was also predicted that these students would have stronger beliefs in the importance of effort as a cause of academic success and would expend greater effort in their academic studies. While the results indicated no difference between the ethnic groups in terms of academic achievement and IQ, there were significant differences in academic effort such that the Chinese Australian students reported spending more time studying than a comparable group of Anglo-Celtic Australian students. Moreover, responses to the measure of causal attributions suggested a perception of Asian background students as “model” students. The results are discussed in relation to the role of effort beliefs and behaviour in the academic achievement of Asian Australian students.
 
We draw on information gathered as part of the Strategic Review of the Psychology Discipline and its Research to discuss the provision of professional training in psychology. The number of students undertaking such training is increasing, and marked further increases in demand are expected, although the introduction of full fees is a complicating factor. The overall profiles of age and appointment level of academic staff in departments of psychology are reasonable, with many young and early-career staff and no sign of a problem of greying. However, the proportion of professors is low, especially in professional fields. Difficulties are foreseen in appointing sufficient academic staff with the research and professional qualifications needed to provide high-quality professional training to meet the likely demand. Given the range of pressures, strong quality assurance procedures are required to maintain standards.
 
This paper deals with the issue of registration for academics who teach and do research in psychology departments. The consequences of registration for all psychologists are examined in relation to the diverse activities of academic and applied professional psychologists. It is argued that registration for academics has the potential for infringing on academic freedom, and that the medical model for the registration of psychologists is in some ways a misleading one. The purposes of registration are discussed with a view to the registration of professional practitioner psychologists in different specialities.
 
Many advocates of a new professional degree argue that present degrees offered by the universities are unsatisfactory for the training of organizational psychologists who plan to work in non-academic settings. The arguments supporting professional degrees assume firstly, that psychological knowledge is mature enough for application, secondly, that there are strong overseas precedents for such degrees, and thirdly, that new degrees are necessary if psychology is to be socially relevant. These assumptions are critically examined and it is concluded that none of them are tenable. However, it is agreed that there is a need for improved training in organizational psychology. It is maintained that present courses are generally inadequate because they do not provide substantial research experience. Furthermore, improved training in organizational psychology is unlikely to appear until the profession defines what is meant by a competent psychologist and university departments hire more staff who are able to teach organizational psychology. At present, staffing policies of university departments reflect an unsubstantiated belief in the primacy of traditional experimental areas of psychology. If the goals of training were defined and staff provided for teaching then professional and academic training could be accommodated by the Ph.D degree. This would require some universities to recognize that coursework and practical experience could be an essential but not a primary component of the Ph.D.
 
Self-acceptance as a description of the self represents a phenomelogical perspective associated with the client-centered clinical paradigm. It is the feeling attached by the individual to the discrepancy between the perceived self and the ideal self. Therapists involved with clients in religious vocations have recently reported finding low levels of self-acceptance among them. It seems that this may have resulted from the vast changes following Vatican Council II in conjunction with wider social changes. This study measured self-acceptance in the members of a male religious congregation of Brothers (N = 196) residing in New South Wales and Queensland. Differences in self-acceptance were related to personal, social-relational, and sociodemographic variables important in the lives of the Brothers. Self-acceptance was found to be closely related to perceived self-image, perceived evaluation by others, community satisfaction, self-disclosure, and commitment to religious life. It was also related to the sociodemographic measures of education, number of Brothers in respondent's religious community, whether the respondent was in a position of responsibility, and latest marital situation of parents. The influence of social desirability was highly significant. A reduced regression model predicting self-acceptance contained social desirability, perceived evaluation by others, education, size of the local community, perceived self-image, and number of years in the juniorate. Possible implications of the findings for the future of religious congregations are discussed.
 
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