YAVIS is an acronym
use to describe their favorite, or rather, their easiest clients
. It is rather straightforward why they are easy when you look at each part of the acronym
Young - therapists like younger patients because they have less emotional history and are typically more open to modifying their behaviors or thought processes. For example, one recent client had a significant drinking problem, which was interfering with other treatment. When pressed to at least try and quit drinking, he said, "I'm fifty years old and it's what I do."
Attractive - honestly, I don't know how this attribute makes therapy easier. One way that could be argued is if the patient was attractive and close to the social ideal body-wise then she may not have body image problems. But I know this is not really the case. Those clients coming in with image and self-worth issues come in all shapes and sizes. So honestly, I don't know how this is a telling factor.
Verbal – Psychoanalysis, which all modern therapy is based on, in at least some way, has also been called, "the talking cure"; so patients with good verbal skills are therapists’ favorites. Those patients with good verbal abilities make processing much easier, because the client can let the therapist know exactly how they are feeling and can understand more abstract direction.
Intelligent - Therapists, like intelligent clients for much the same reasons as they like verbal clients. It is easier to process with an intelligent client.
Successful - Finally, therapists are much more apt to see a lot of successful clients. There are several reasons for this: 1) successful people - who tend to have more money - can afford the luxury of therapy and since 2) these clients are not actively concerned about basic needs (food, shelter, ect) they are much more apt to develop what Walker Percy called the "malaise" of modern life.
YAVIS clients can be a problem. These people are the first to seek therapeutic help, and busy clinicians may fill their day working with them, rather than clients who have very difficult problems but who would not be motivated to seek treatment.
Finally, the term YAVIS was first coined in 1964 in the book Psychotherapy: the Purchase of Friendship, by William Schofield a psychiatry professor. He discussed the difficulties of the YAVIS client and how therapists may subconsciously look for their characteristics when signing up new patients:
What is there in the general theory of psychodynamics or psychotherapy to suggest that the neurosis of a 50-year-old commercial fisherman with an eighth-grade education will be more resistant to psychological help than a symptomatically comparable disturbance in a 35-year-old, college-trained artist?...
It seems... likely that there are pressures toward a systematic selection of patients, pressures that are perhaps subtle and unconscious in part and that, in part, reflect theoretical biases common to all psychotherapists. These selective forces tend to restrict the efforts of the bulk of social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists to clients who present the "Yavis" syndrome -- clients who are youthful, attractive, verbal, intelligent, and successful.
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