Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Helping Couples Through Stage One Cycle De-escalation in Emotionally Focused Therapy
by Cardwell, Eric, Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2019, 104; 13427821
Abstract (Summary)

This study used a constructivist grounded theory methodology to explore the question, “How can couples be successfully helped through stage one, cycle de-escalation in emotionally focused couple therapy?” This therapy is a humanistic, evidenced-based approach aimed at repairing the distress that arises in couples’ relationships (Johnson, 2004). Research delineating the operational moves and processes of therapy informs and guides clinicians and epistemologists to more effectively and efficiently de-escalate the cycles that disconnect couples. Investigations into the emotionally focused therapy (EFT) stage two watershed moments that restructure the bonds in romantic relationships have shed light on such processes (Bradley & Furrow, 2004; Lee, Spengler, Mitchell, Spengler, Spiker, 2017; Rheem, 2011). However, a prerequisite to stage two is successfully de-escalating the couple’s negative cycle in stage one.

Published literature regarding emotionally focused therapy and grounded theory was reviewed. Constructivist grounded theory methodology was chosen due to the author’s familiarity with EFT and its ability to investigate information rich data for delineation of processes. Nine experienced clinicians that were certified in emotionally focused therapy were interviewed using a semi-structured interview. The process of successful cycle de-escalation was mapped, which supported and closely paralleled the model already put forth in the literature by Johnson (2004). Additionally, the data was connected to the literature using a contextual model of common factors seen as necessary for effective therapies (Wampold, 2015). Stage one interventions already noted by Johnson were found to be the most commonly used interventions in the cycle de-escalation change event. Additionally, facets associated with success of the primary change event were revealed such as the therapist modeling and development of secure attachment with the couple, need for therapist self-regulation, the active stance of the therapist during stage one, and the use of proximity to the couple. This dissertation was an initial study to examine the cycle de-escalation change event and points to future research of the change event in emotionally focused couple therapy.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Johnson, Zonya
Commitee: Serafini, Kelly, Schirmer, Todd
School: Saybrook University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 81/1(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Counseling Psychology, Clinical psychology, Psychology
Keywords: Couples therapy, De-escalation, EFT, Emotionally focused, Marriage, Johnson, Sue
Publication Number: 13427821
ISBN: 9781085562980
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