Changes in Clients' Perception of "Curative Factors" During a Short-Term Therapy Group

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Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Tlic present study was designed to examine participants' perceptions of specific therapeutic mechanisms which may promote learning or behavior change in therapy groups. Yalom (1970) suggests the possibility that such "curative factors" may be therapeutic at different stages of group development, a general hypothesis which provides the basic framework for this study. Drawing from the theoretical literature on group development (e. g . , Martin and Hill, 1957, Tuckman, 1965), hypotheses were also formulated concerning changes in the perceived importance of specific therapeutic mechanisms as the group develops.

A short form of Yalom's Curative Factors Q-sort was administered on four occasions to members of a short term therapy group in a case-study design. Twenty-four items and five factor analytically derived item clusters were examined for evidence of systematically increasing or decreasing trends in the perceived importance of the curative factors through the course of the group's development.

The results support the general hypothesis that group participants' perceptions of curative factors change as a group progresses. Perhaps the most important finding was an increase in the perceived importance of interpersonal learning/fecdback—a result which fits well with Yalom's conceptions of the group therapeutic process. Several hypotheses regarding changes in other curative factors were also supported. Curative-factor item clusters, obtained through factor analysis of data from a previous study, only partially corresponded to Yalom's original categorization.

Further research regarding the importance of specific therapeutic mechanisms and their relevance to theories of group development seems indicated.

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