Observed Psychologist Empathy, Therapeutic Process and Outcomes for Couples from Relationship Education.

Bate, Karina S (2012). Observed Psychologist Empathy, Therapeutic Process and Outcomes for Couples from Relationship Education. Professional Doctorate, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Bate, Karina S
Thesis Title Observed Psychologist Empathy, Therapeutic Process and Outcomes for Couples from Relationship Education.
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2012-10-29
Thesis type Professional Doctorate
Supervisor Professor Kim Halford
Total pages 160
Total colour pages 1
Total black and white pages 159
Language eng
Subjects 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology
1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary The Therapeutic Alliance predicts individual and couple therapy outcome, but the potential impact of alliance on prevention program outcomes is largely untested. The aim of this thesis was to test whether therapist empathy enhances outcome for couples after relationship education, and whether any effects of therapist empathy were moderated by the level of risk for future relationship distress of couples. Using a longitudinal design, the current study assessed observed empathy during sessions of Couple Relationship Education (CRE) provided to 53 heterosexual couples, who were participating in a randomized controlled trial of the Couple CARE program. The CRE was provided to couples in their own home via a DVD, structured couple exercises and relationship educator contact via the internet. Spouses’ engagement with key program activities and the extent of their relationship enhancing behaviours during participation were assessed, as well as couple relationship satisfaction before and after CRE. Using evidence-based indices of relationship distress, each couple’s risk for future relationship problems was also assessed. Couple relationship satisfaction improved following participation in CRE. Pre-CRE relationship satisfaction was not reliably associated with educator empathy. Relative to couples who had lower risk for future relationship problems, high risk couples were less satisfied prior to participation, and more likely to drop out during CRE. However, risk did not predict changes in satisfaction after CRE. Empathy predicted higher engagement with program tasks for low-risk but not high-risk couples. Contrary to predications, empathy did not predict the number of CRE sessions completed, the extent of relationship enhancing behaviours attempted, or the improvement in relationship satisfaction. The results suggest that even a modest level of empathy is sufficient for CRE to have a positive effect. Empathic educators seem to enhance engagement for lower risk couples, whereas higher risk couples who continue with CRE show high engagement independent of therapist empathy, possibly because they are motivated to engage in CRE to enhance their relationship. Implications for psychological practice, training and future research are discussed.
Keyword Couple Relationship Education
relationship satisfaction
risk factors
Therapeutic alliance
therapeutic process
Couples -- Psychology
Additional Notes Page 66 should be printed in colour.

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Created: Mon, 29 Oct 2012, 06:47:42 EST by Miss Karina Bate on behalf of Faculty of Social & Behavioural Sciences