First Advisor

Helm, Heather M.

Second Advisor

Cardona, Betty

Document Type


Date Created



The therapeutic working alliance has been identified as the most important factor in the outcome of counseling. The therapeutic working alliance is the relationship between the client and the counselor. It is the context in which the counselor builds hope, collaborates on treatment goals and uses selected treatment approaches to best meet the needs of the client. Scholars have suggested that the counselor's personal characteristics contribute to the therapeutic working alliance. Further, researchers have identified wisdom traits as a set of cognitive, affective, and reflective personal characteristics that are interactive, as well as both interpersonal and intrapersonal, which are beneficial in counseling. Wisdom traits can be organized by six conceptual categories; cognitive ability, insight, reflective attitude, concern for others, real-world skills, and emotional intelligence. Based on the review of literature, it is speculated that wisdom traits related to the person of the counselor are an important, but unnoticed factor in the counseling relationship. Participants were 106 professional counselors, 83 female and 23 male, currently working with a client for at least three sessions. Wisdom was measured by Three Dimensional Wisdom Scale, with three factors: the affective dimension, the reflective dimension, and the cognitive dimension; the Self Assessed Wisdom Scale, with five factors: critical life experience, openness, reflection or reminiscence, emotional regulation, and humor; and the Wisdom Development Scale, with eight factors: self-knowledge, altruism, inspirational engagement, judgment, life knowledge, life skills, emotional management, and willingness to learn. The therapeutic working alliance was measured by the Working Alliance Inventory - Short Form, Therapist version. The results indicated a significant amount of variability in the therapeutic working alliance was explained by the wisdom of the counselor. Additionally, three of the subscales of wisdom significantly explained a portion of the therapeutic working alliance; the cognitive dimension, emotional regulation, and life knowledge. The reflective dimension, inspirational engagement and life skills were close to significant, therefore indicated as important factors in the counselor's wisdom and the therapeutic working alliance. Even though some of the wisdom variables had a statistically significant impact on the therapeutic working alliance, together they made a more significant contribution. As counselor education programs move toward relying on research evidence to inform the educational experience, the focus on the counseling relationship and the person of the counselor becomes increasingly important. In the future, the development of a useful measurement for wisdom could help counselor educators to identify, evaluate and teach wisdom traits in future counselors.

Abstract Format



Counseling Psychology; Behavioral Sciences; Mental Health; Counseling Relationship; Counselor Development; Counselor Education; Person-of-the-Counselor; Therapeutic Working Alliance; Wisdom


250 pages

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