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Avoided grief: It's relation to dysfunction and the effectiveness of therapy

Tan, Eng Hui Patricia Michelle (2000) Avoided grief: It's relation to dysfunction and the effectiveness of therapy. Professional Doctorate thesis, Murdoch University.

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The present investigation included a Coping and Dysfunction Study and an Effectiveness of Therapy Study. Fifty-two individuals participated in the Coping and Dysfunction Study, which investigated the relation of coping during the initial and current periods of grief with decreased psychological and physical dysfunction. Among the coping variables, a previously unstudied variable. perceived coping with grief, had the strongest relation to decreased dysfunction. Results indicated that the more that bereaved believed they were coping well with their grief, the less depressed and anxious they were, and the less somatic symptoms they had. Avoidance, a coping strategy that previous research suggested would have a strong relation to dysfunction, was unexpectedly only related to anxiety if the individual was currently avoiding their grief. However, as predicted, problem solving coping and seeking social support in both the initial and current periods of grief had no relation to dysfunction. Lastly, avoidance, but not problem solving coping or seeking social support, was related to poor perceived coping with grief. These findings suggested that encouraging nonavoidance of grief could foster a self-perception of coping well with grief, which would in turn relate to less psychological and physical dysfunction. Nonavoidance of grief was encouraged through grief therapy. The Effectiveness of Therapy Study was conducted to assess the efficacy of two forms of grief therapy aimed at encouraging non-avoidance of grief in individuals who were avoiding their grief. Of the 33 people who responded to this study, 24 were deemed to be avoiding their grief and were randomly assigned to receive either Guided Mourning and Cognitive Behaviour Grief Therapy. Twelve individuals were assigned to receive Guided Mourning; however only six completed treatment Another 12 were assigned to receive Cognitive-Behaviour Grief Therapy; eight completed treatment. During Guided Mourning, exposure (instead of avoidance) to grief was encouraged. Exposure to grief was also encouraged in Cognitive Behaviour Grief Therapy. In addition, participants were taught to identify and challenge negative automatic thoughts they had during exposure, and replace negative thoughts with functional responses. Unexpectedly, it was found that Cognitive Behaviour Grief Therapy resulted in less decreases in measures of grief. psychological dysfunction, and physical dysfunction, than Guided Mourning. Although these results could be reflective of the differences between therapy groups prior to treatment, the possibility that they were reflective of the importance of exposure, or of factors nonspecific to treatment type was not discounted. The results of these two studies were promising but only suggestive because samples were smaller than desired (n=52 for the Coping and Dysfunction Study; and n=6 and 8 in the Effectiveness of Therapy Study). The power of these samples to detect significant results was limited, and further research with larger samples is needed to further investigate these findings.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Division of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Hewson-Bower, Barbara
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