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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Possibility in groups : examining group interventions to enhance emerging adults' possible selves Giannone, Zarina Alexandra


Emerging adulthood is a period when a person’s sense of who one can become undergoes considerable development. It has been proposed that interventions that focus on enhancing identity can help emerging adults shape and pursue their life goals; however, little is currently known about group interventions that help young people develop a robust sense of identity. Thus, the purpose of this dissertation was to advance understanding of identity-focused group interventions among emerging adults. Three studies were conducted using a staged approach to achieve this goal. Study 1 reviewed identity-focused group interventions that were empirically tested with emerging adults to uncover their defining characteristics and purported mechanisms of change. Interventions were categorized into three groups, including didactic, task-oriented, and experiential. Study 2 compared two possible selves group interventions (interpersonal-experiential and didactic) that aimed to increase participants’ sense of future possibilities. Findings indicated significant improvement in future outlook and personal growth initiative following participation in both types of intervention. While no significant change in vocational possible selves was observed, significant improvement in relational possible selves was found among participants who completed the interpersonal-experiential intervention. Follow-up analyses found that improvement in relational possible selves in the interpersonal-experiential intervention was associated with participants’ ratings of group engagement during the intervention. Study 3 explored participants’ subjective experiences in the aforementioned possible selves group interventions. Three overarching categories emerged from a thematic analysis, including psychosocial changes (four themes), helpful factors (nine themes), and unhelpful factors (five themes). The emergent themes were associated with one or both group interventions. Taken together, these three studies made the following contributions to the advancement of knowledge: consolidating and interpreting the disparate literature; investigating the effectiveness of and participants’ perceptions of change in two identity-focused group interventions; examining group processes in the above interventions, and; exploring participants’ perceived limitations and suggestions for improving the aforementioned interventions. Findings from this dissertation provide support for the need to study psychological interventions that address identity development in emerging adulthood, affording an original and substantive contribution to the identity scholarship domain.

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