Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Pascual-Leone, Antonio

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine if primary adaptive emotions added to the prediction of therapy outcome above and beyond client depth of experiencing. In an effort to provide an explanatory model, the effect of early-therapy alliance and experiencing on working phase primary adaptive emotions were examined. Individual differences in alliance formation, depth of experiencing, and time spent in primary adaptive emotions were also evaluated. An archival data set of N = 42 individuals who underwent emotion-focused therapy for trauma (EFTT) for childhood maltreatment was used to code time spent in primary adaptive emotions using the Classification of Affective Meaning States (CAMS). The study further made use of alliance and experiencing ratings. All ratings were completed during primary trauma re-experiencing. Participants’ report of interpersonal distress was the index used for therapy outcome. Experiencing in the working phase of therapy, not time spent in primary adaptive emotions, was the best predictor of therapy outcome. Early phase experiencing best-predicted time spent in primary adaptive emotions in the working phase of therapy. From an individual differences standpoint, working phase alliance was the best predictor of therapy outcome for those who had difficulty forming an alliance early in therapy. Depth of experiencing in the working phase of therapy was the best predictor of therapy outcome for those who had difficulty engaging in deepened experiencing early in therapy. The findings of this study suggest that facilitating client experiencing in the working phase of EFTT is important in promoting a good therapy outcome. It further suggests that focusing on the process (i.e. alliance or experiencing) that clients have trouble engaging with early in therapy contributes to the best therapy outcome.

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