Psychology ETDs

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While many psychotherapists can agree that interpretive statements are an important aspect of the psychotherapeutic process, there are many divergent ideas about what constitutes a good interpretation and why making interpretations is thought to be an effective therapeutic strategy. Efforts to demonstrate the features and characteristics of successful interpretations have not been conclusive. Recent efforts to empirically demonstrate the immediate effects of interpretation have produced results that suggest that these effects differ significantly across individuals. While interpretation has been included as a component within a variety of treatments with demonstrated efficacy, the question of how interpretation relates to outcome remains largely unanswered. Many of these previous experiments were limited by nomothetic designs and correlational analysis. In the present set of experiments, a single subject design was used to investigate the effects of two types of interpretation in the context of an acceptance-based psychotherapy using emotionally avoidant clients. Repeated assessment of client's coping strategies outside of therapy and detailed measures of emotional expression within session allowed for an investigation of changes in response to therapeutic strategies. The effects of intratherapy interpretations (i.e., those relating specifically to the therapeutic relationship and behavior occurring in the room) and extratherapy interpretations (i.e., those describing patterns of behavior in relationships other than the therapeutic relationship) were evaluated using an ABC design. This design was replicated across three subjects, however, insufficient treatment integrity in one case reduced the interpretability of results. In one case, time-series analysis showed a statistically significant increase in emotional expression during the intratherapy interpretation condition and no effect of extratherapy interpretations. In the second case, a statistically significant decrease in emotional expression was evident during both interpretive conditions. There were no statistically significant difference in either client's use of coping strategies during the brief treatment. The lack of consistent results makes causal conclusions on the basis of these results premature. However, the individual difference in response to two types of interpretation are offered as informative preliminary data indicating the need for further analysis using the methodology of single-subject design. Further replications of the design used here could elucidate potential variables that contribute to the effects of different types of interpretive strategies.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Micheal Dougher

Second Committee Member

Samuel Roll

Third Committee Member

Robert Kohlenberg

Fourth Committee Member

Steve Gangestad



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Psychology Commons