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‘Bumps in the Road’: A pilot study of a therapeutic technique for the integration of unresolved family discourse

Watts, Gabriella Jean (2020) ‘Bumps in the Road’: A pilot study of a therapeutic technique for the integration of unresolved family discourse. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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The ability to sustain a coherent narrative about experiences of trauma and loss is a prominent feature of secure-autonomous attachment states of mind as assessed in attachment-based narrative tasks such as the AAI, and attachment projective measures such as the AAP. In children, a similar concept of narrative coherence can be measured using instruments based on story stem tasks. The current study is focussed on the application of such ideas within a therapeutic intervention for families. Bumps in the Road is a whole of family drawing task, which aims to facilitate the co-construction and reorganisation of family narratives around trauma, loss, and hardship, with the overarching aim of improving the overall coherence of the family discourse. The delivery and therapeutic aim of the task is underpinned by theories of defensive linguistic processing of adverse events, particularly the concept of discourse segregation. The current study presents a qualitative description of the task itself and quantitative findings on the psychometric properties of a coding system of the family discourse, specifically, coherence and defensive processes. The association of coding of the narratives of 19 parents undertaking this task were examined as predictors of change in internalising and externalising symptoms in the referred child. Findings show that therapist competence and task structure did predict the magnitude of treatment efficacy. The current study is the first presentation of this novel therapeutic task and sets a platform for further research and evaluation of the use of narrative tasks and discourse coding in clinical work with families.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
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Supervisor(s): Lewis, Andrew
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