Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Adult Attachment, Multidimensional Perfectionism, and the Alliances among Counselor Supervisees

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Adult Attachment, Multidimensional Perfectionism, and the Alliances among Counselor Supervisees

Article excerpt

An increasing amount of research has been conducted on how the personal characteristics of counselors-in-training might influence the relationships they form with clients and supervisors (e.g., Gnilka, Chang, & Dew, 2012). Although the research base is somewhat limited, there is preliminary evidence offered by some authors (e.g., Heinonen, Lindfors, Laaksonen, & Knekt, 2012) that a counselor's personal characteristics may be important determinants of effectiveness in short- and long-term counseling. However, other authors (e.g., Nissen-Lie, Havik, Hoglend, Monsen, & Ronnestad, 2013) have argued that the relationship between counselor personal characteristics and counseling and supervisory relationships may be complex. Some preliminary evidence has shown a relationship between the personal characteristics of counselor attachment (e.g., Gunn & Pistole, 2012) and counselor perfectionism (e.g., Ganske, Gnilka, Ashby, & Rice, 2015) and the counseling and supervisory relationships. In addition, some researchers have conducted studies that examined the relationship between attachment and perfectionism (e.g., Rice & Lopez, 2004). The purpose of the current study was to investigate the potentially complex relationship between the personal characteristics of counselor attachment styles and multidimensional perfectionism to client and supervisory working alliances.

Counselors and researchers are increasingly viewing adult attachment as a multidimensional construct that includes two dimensions: attachment anxiety and attachment avoidance (Fraley, Waller, & Brennan, 2000; Lopez & Gormley, 2002; Wei, Heppner, Russell, & Young, 2006). Adults who report high attachment anxiety experience feelings of abandonment and negative emotions. Adults who report having high levels of attachment avoidance feel uneasy being close to others, may withdraw, and value self-reliance. Adults who are low on both dimensions are more likely to report stable relationships and feel comfortable with being close to others (Fraley et al., 2000; Lopez & Gormley, 2002).

In some ways similar to the construct of attachment, Rice and Ashby (2007) offered evidence for the multidimensional nature of perfectionism. In a comprehensive review of the literature, Stoeber and Otto (2006) identified two dimensions of perfectionism: adaptive perfectionism (standards) and maladaptive perfectionism (discrepancy). Adaptive perfectionism is defined as a healthy pursuit of personal high standards but with minimal self-criticism. Conversely, maladaptive perfectionism is defined as severe self-criticism and a persistent perception of failing to meet personal high standards and expectations. When the two dimensions are covaried, as recommended by Stoeber and Otto, standards have been positively associated with various psychological outcomes such as life satisfaction (Gnilka, Ashby, & Noble, 2013), healthy coping processes (Gnilka, Ashby, & Noble, 2012), and hope (Ashby, Dickinson, Gnilka, & Noble, 2011) and negatively associated with various undesirable psychological outcomes including depression (Ashby, Noble, & Gnilka, 2012; Noble, Ashby, & Gnilka, 2014; Rice & Ashby, 2007) and perceived stress (Rice & Ashby, 2007). In contrast, discrepancy has been positively associated with various negative psychological outcomes such as depression (Ashby et al., 2011; Rice & Ashby, 2007), hopelessness (Gnilka et al., 2013), and unhealthy coping processes (Gnilka, Chang, & Dew, 2012; Wei et al., 2006).

* Attachment Styles, Perfectionism, and Psychological Outcomes

Over the past decade, only a few authors have investigated more complex models to explain the relationships between attachment and perfectionism in the prediction of various psychological outcomes. For example, Rice and Lopez (2004) concluded that secure adult attachment moderated the negative relationship between maladaptive perfectionism and self-esteem. …

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