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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Recognition of loneliness as a basis for psychotherapy Petryshen, Patricia Rose

Abstract

This study on the recognition of loneliness as a basis for psychotherapy developed a conceptual model for loneliness intervention. Specific loneliness behaviours and suggested loneliness interventions to be implemented during psychotherapy were identified in the conceptual model for loneliness intervention. The review of the literature supported the need for research on conceptualizing loneliness to facilitate psychotherapy with lonely clients. A quasi-experimental design was employed in the study. The Schmidt-Sermat Loneliness Scale was utilized to identify clients who tested high in loneliness. In Part I of the study, the control group, thirteen mental health clients who tested high in loneliness were involved in psychotherapy with one of four therapists. 1 Upon completion of six psychotherapy sessions, the clients were again tested for loneliness. An Inservice Education on loneliness and an explanation of the implementing of the conceptual model for loneliness intervention during psychotherapy, as developed by the investigator, was given. Specific loneliness behaviours and possible loneliness interventions were inherent in the model. A new group of eleven clients who tested high in loneliness were identified to the same four therapists who participated in Part I of the study. These clients formed the comparison group for Part II of the study. Loneliness consultation was provided on a weekly basis by the investigator to facilitate therapist implementation of the conceptual model for loneliness intervention. Clients were again tested for loneliness after six therapy sessions. At the end of Part I and Part II, therapists rated their perception of progress in psychotherapy and satisfaction in attempting loneliness intervention. Open end-interviews on the implementation of the conceptual model for loneliness intervention was also conducted. Analysis of the findings of the study resulted in Hypotheses I, II, and III being upheld. Psychotherapy was more effective in reducing loneliness when the conceptual model for loneliness intervention was implemented. Therapists who utilized loneliness intervention with clients who tested high in loneliness found the psychotherapy sessions more satisfying. Therapist perception of client progress in psychotherapy increased when the conceptual model for loneliness intervention was implemented. The findings of the study were strongly significant and indicated the usefulness of a conceptual model for loneliness intervention. The primary recommendation of the study was that loneliness psychotherapy be conducted with mental health clients who are lonely. The presentation of loneliness as a basis for psychotherapy requires that the concept of loneliness be theoretically and conceptually defined. Basically, the study recommended that there be further exploration of the concept of loneliness in the field of mental health. For further research, it was suggested that this research be conducted in a hospital setting on a psychiatric ward where on-going therapy is conducted on a daily basis. This would allow for the facilities at the hospital to be readily integrated with the loneliness interventions which would involve therapists to directly observe and participate in the loneliness interventions, in a role-model situation, if appropriate. Individuals have always experienced loneliness, many have suffered from this feeling. It is the inherent goal of health professionals to promote mental health. By setting a sound base for loneliness in psychotherapy, mental health care may be improved. This can also be achieved by therapists, educators, and researchers furthering the knowledge and conceptualization of loneliness to form a strong theoretical base for this concept.

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