Investigation of changes in personal construing in members of three psychotherapy groups and the relationship between these changes and affective expression within group sessions
A review of Group Psychology and Training Group Literature provides a set of recommendations concerning research design in terms of outcome and process. The recommendations included repeated study of one type of therapy criteria. The research programme was designed to study three group-analytic psychotherapy groups of nine-months duration for interpersonally disturbed adult out-patients. A total of twenty patients were treated in three treatment groups. Outcome criteria varied from nomothetic (i.e. psychopathology and interpersonal functioning) to idiographic (i.e. repertory grid measures of personal construing). The grid measures were abstracted from a form of repertory grid described by Watson (1970) as a method of studying groups, with reference to two construct sub-systems: group- and family-construing. Measures abstracted were Self-Esteem, Identification with Therapist, Group Member and Parent. Perceived similarity between parental figures and group members (i.e. a measure of one type of transference) was also assessed. Appropriate controls for test-taking and non-problem oriented discussion were included. In the second and third treatment groups, affective expression within treatment sessions was measured using the Process Analysis Scoring System (PASS) described by Gibbard & Harman (1973). The source of data was tape recordings of each session which was then scored by the Therapist and a team of scorers trained in this system. The aims of the three studies were, firstly to conduct an evaluation of one treatment modality namely, group-analystic psychotherapy; secondly, to monitor changes on two variables, Self-Esteem and Subjective Anxiety, throughout the duration of the groups and thirdly, to relate these changes to changes in other self-perceptual variables and also to affective expression within the treatment groups. The outcome data indicated significant improvement in each of the three treatment groups but not in either control group. Relative outcome between individuals and process relationships (individual and group data) across time were studied using correlational analysis and Multiple Regression Analysis both within and across treatment groups. Results were consonant with Yalom's (1970) curative factors and Malan's (1979) resolution of triangle of conflict. Finally, a model for further evaluation of group psychotherapy process and outcome was outlined developing personal-construct methodology within a group setting. Modification of group-analytic psychotherapeutic technique was also discussed.