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A process comparison of peak and poor sessions in emotionally focused marital therapy Sherriff Alden, Louise


Psychotherapy research has in the past been primarily focused on outcome, that is whether a particular therapy has been successful in promoting change in the client. More recently it has sought to explicate the processes through which change happens. This study examines the process of therapy for 16 couples who received 8-10 sessions of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT) (Greenberg & Johnson, 1986). Two sessions were chosen for each couple, a peak and poor session as assessed by the couple on post-sessional questionnaires. The couples were rated both on the depth of their in-session experience (Experiencing Scale, Klein, Mathieu, Gendlin & Kiesler, 1969) and their interactions (Structural Analysis of Social Behavior, Benjamin, 1974). Peak and poor sessions were compared. Results showed that depth of experience was greater and that interaction was more affiliative and autonomous in peak sessions than in poor. Clinical implications of this research are discussed.

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