Expectations of couples presenting for therapy

Aberdein, Cindy F. (2018-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: International research indicates that understanding couples’ expectations of therapy is beneficial to the therapeutic process. Some of the benefits suggested by this research include improved tailoring of therapy to address couple expectations, contributing to an enhanced therapeutic alliance, persistence with therapy and, ultimately, an improved, positive outcome for relationships and families. In addition to these benefits, one of the identified limitations of this international research is a gap in understanding expectations in diverse contexts. Contexts such as South Africa, with compelling social challenges and limited resources, offer not only a different context from previous research regarding couple expectations, but also demand mental health interventions that have demonstrated efficacy in the face of constrained resources. My study attempts to contribute, in part, to a particular gap in the international research and to make use of an opportunity to contribute to the understudied domain of couple therapy in the South African context. A qualitative approach was chosen to answer the research question regarding what couples expect when presenting for therapy. The research participants were asked to respond to seven open-ended questions in a semi-structured interview. Ten couples from a family therapy centre in the Western Cape province, South Africa shared their expectations of couple therapy. These couples differ from participants in previous research in terms of location, socio-economic status and cultural influences. Data from the interviews were analysed using ATLAS.ti.80 (2017), and the noticing, collecting and thinking (NCT) approach to data analysis (Friese, 2014) was implemented to produce the findings that are presented in this thesis. The findings of my study correspond to international findings in that couples present for therapy with expectations relating to what they expect to do in therapy, the role played by the therapist in the therapeutic process, and the outcome of therapy. In general, couples expected therapy to be helpful, they expected to be active participants in therapy, and they expected the couple therapists to create a supportive environment and to be focused on the couple’s needs. Although the couples expected clarity, they did not expect to resolve all of their concerns in therapy, but rather expected an environment that would facilitate communication and learning. In contrast to previous research findings was an emphasis on personal responsibility, honesty and safety. An unexpected outcome of this study was an apparent mobilisation of hope during the interview process for some of the couples. The substantial overlap of my findings with international findings, despite diverse settings, is of interest, and the differences noted in my findings may present an opportunity for further investigation to support couples and couple therapists in achieving the desired positive relational outcomes of therapy.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Internasionale navorsing dui daarop dat ’n begrip van paartjies se verwagting van terapie voordelig is vir die terapeutiese proses. Onder die voordele wat in hierdie navorsing na vore gekom het, is verbeterde pasmaking van terapie om die verwagting van die paartjie aan te spreek, ’n bydrae tot ’n verbeterde terapeutiese alliansie, volharding met terapie en uiteindelik ’n verbeterde uitkoms vir verhoudings en gesinne. Benewens hierdie voordele was een van die geïdentifiseerde beperkings van die internasionale navorsing ’n gaping in die begrip van verwagtinge in diverse kontekste. Kontekste soos Suid-Afrika, met dwingende maatskaplike uitdagings en beperkte hulpbronne, bied nie net ’n verskillende konteks in vergelyking met vorige navorsing nie, maar vereis ook geestesgesondheidsingrypings wat gewys is om effektief te wees in die lig van beperkte hulpbronne. My studie poog om deels by te dra tot ’n spesifieke gaping in die internasionale navorsing en om gebruik te maak van ’n geleentheid om by te dra tot die gebrekkig bestudeerde domein van paartjieterapie in die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks. ’n Kwalitatiewe benadering is gekies om die navorsingsvraag te beantwoord oor wat paartjies verwag wanneer hulle vir terapie aanmeld. Die deelnemers aan die navorsing is gevra om sewe oopeinde-vrae in ’n semi-gestruktureerde onderhoud te beantwoord. Tien paartjies wat by ’n gesinsterapiesentrum in die Wes-Kaapse provinsie van Suid-Afrika aangemeld het, het hulle verwagtinge van paartjieterapie gedeel. Hierdie paartjies het verskil van deelnemers aan vorige navorsing in terme van ligging, sosio-ekonomiese status en kulturele invloede. Data vanaf die onderhoude is met ATLAS.ti.80 (2017) geanaliseer, en die opmerk, versameling en dink (noticing, collecting and thinking (NCT))-benadering tot data-analise (Friese, 2014) is gebruik om die bevindinge te produseer wat in hierdie tesis aangebied word. Die bevindinge van my studie kom ooreen met internasionale bevindinge in dat paartjies vir terapie aanmeld met verwagtinge wat verband hou met wat hulle verwag om tydens terapie te doen, die rol wat deur die terapeut in die terapeutiese proses gespeel word, en die uitkoms van die terapie. Oor die algemeen het paartjies verwag dat die terapie hulle sou help, hulle het verwag om aktiewe deelnemers in die terapie te wees, en hulle het verwag dat die paartjie-terapeute ’n ondersteunende omgewing sou skep en gefokus sou wees op die paartjie se behoeftes. Hoewel die paartjies duidelikheid verwag het, het hulle nie verwag om al hulle probleme tydens terapie op te los nie, maar eerder dat die omgewing kommunikasie en leer sou fasiliteer. In kontras met vorige navorsingsbevindinge was daar ’n klem op persoonlike verantwoordelikheid, eerlikheid en veiligheid. ’n Onverwagse uitkoms van hierdie studie was ’n klaarblyklike mobilisasie van hoop onder sommige paartjies tydens die onderhoude. Die aansienlike oorvleueling van my bevindinge met internasionale bevindinge ten spyte van die verskillende liggings is van belang, en die verskille wat in my bevindinge opgemerk is, kan ’n geleentheid skep vir verdere ondersoeke om paartjies en paartjie-terapeute te ondersteun in die bereiking van die gewenste positiewe verhoudingsuitkomste van terapie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104935
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