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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Relationships Between Adverse Events, Relational Health Events, and Adaptive Dissociation in a Clinical Sample of Adolescents
by Felker, Paul, Ph.D., Widener University, 2017, 131; 10688673
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this research is to provide an understanding of dissociation from a strengths perspective, especially its adaptive capacities, and provide information that will increase relational health and improve clinical outcomes. The literature is dominated by a pathological view of dissociation and its adaptive capacities have been minimized. When dissociation is conceptualized as a continuum experience, it is evident that most people experience dissociation to some extent on a daily basis. Dissociation can actually enhance focus, conservation of energy, analgesic effects, reflection, rumination, and compartmentalization. Empirical evidence supports that the relationship is the central vehicle through which change occurs in psychotherapy. There is also emerging research that suggests that some aspects of dissociation are employed in efforts to build relationships. Therefore, considering its ubiquitous nature, this dissertation research explored how dissociation might impact relationships including the therapeutic alliance. This study investigated potential antecedents of dissociation throughout select developmental stages. The data used was derived from a sample of 4325 children from a global population. This research found that adverse events and relational health factors combine to generate a developmental risk factor that has a predictive power about where people will fall on the dissociation continuum. In line with a more a strengths based perspective, I found that relational health factors are very strongly associated with a more organized, adaptive dissociation. Clinicians can use this information to aid in the focus and direction of their assessments, and subsequently, target their interventions to specific areas of functioning that require further development. Most importantly, clinicians can use this information to understand and interpret their client’s dissociative tendencies from a strengths focus that recognizes the relational and adaptive potential of dissociation. This can lead to more appropriate interventions, strengthen the therapeutic alliance, and help achieve better outcomes.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wyatt, Jeannette
Commitee: Houser, Linda, Nazar, Barry
School: Widener University
Department: Social Work
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 79/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social work
Keywords: Attachment, Dissociation, Neurobiology, Neurosequential model of therapeutics, Relationships, Trauma
Publication Number: 10688673
ISBN: 978-0-355-53693-5
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