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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A model of the change process : an event-based study in couple therapy Sweetman, Esther


The main purpose of this investigation was to develop a detailed model of the change process of an in-session therapeutic event co-created by therapist and couple in an alcohol recovery treatment context, using Experiential Systemic Therapy (ExST; Friesen, Grigg, Peel, & Newman, 1989). Two videotaped episodes in which a couple successfully resolved a relational impasse (RI event) and one episode in which a couple did not resolve a relational impasse were examined. To discover patterns that distinguished between the RI events that were successfully resolved and the RI event that was not, a step by step analysis of the therapist and couple behavior and interactions was conducted using Rice and Greenberg's (1984) Task Analytic Methodology. Key components and mechanisms of change in both therapist and couple performance and their interaction were identified. A model of the change process for the RI event specific to ExST is provided as well as a more general model that may be applied across theoretical approaches. Factors inhibiting the change process are also delineated. In addition, two process measures: The Experiencing Scale and the Self-Disclosure Coding System were found to discriminate between the successful and unsuccessful RI events. Finally, implications of the results for clinical practice and training, limitations of the study as well as recommendations for future directions in research are presented.

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