Relationships of Psychological Well-Being, Social Morals, and Personality among Religious and Non-Religious Individuals
Dann Hazel, Fielding's School of Psychology
Throughout American history, an idea has predominated popular thinking that people of strong religious faith, particularly those from a Judeo-Christian tradition, possess personality traits characteristic of mental stability more than do non-religious individuals, including atheists. Furthermore, strong religious faith has also been seen as the precursor of greater psychological well-being and social morality more than does lesser faith, or than no faith at all. This study surveyed 1,195 participants of a variety of faith and no-faith positions on the Internet, utilizing the Ryff Scales of Psychological Well-Being, the Socio-Moral Reflection Measure, the Big Five Inventory, and the Updated Dogmatism Scale to determine correlations among psychological well-being, social morality, personality traits, and dogmatic cognitive systems with degrees of faith, including primarily Judeo-Christian traditions, secular humanists, and atheists. Finally, within four asynchronous online discussion groups derived from various Facebook communities, 25 participants indicated the degree of their involvement in online social media as it related to their growth and identity maintenance as religious or non-religious individuals. Both quantitative and qualitative study results indicated that social and personal evolution may be occurring among both religious and non-religious individuals, possibly and at least partially attributable to the pervasiveness of social media in modern lives. As examples, dogmatic cognitive styles and intolerance of human diversity are largely eschewed by both groups. Consequently, the “culture war” between theists and atheists, often typified by social marginalization and dogmatic communication styles, may have already begun to wane.
Keywords: degrees of religious faith, fundamentalism, progressive religion, atheists, theists, personality traits, Five Factor Model, virtue ethics, social morality, dogmatism, psychological well-being, social media, focus groups, Facebook
Perceptions and Experiences of Physical Punishment in Childhood and Their Subsequent Impact on Social and Psychological Functioning in American and Mexican Populations
Carol Quintana, Fielding's School of Psychology
The purpose of this study was to determine whether cultural differences exist in the perception and experience of physical abuse in childhood for Americans and Mexicans. The study examined the impact of perceptions and experiences of childhood physical abuse on subsequent adult psychological and interpersonal functioning. The concept of physical abuse was presented from the perspective of its relationship to parental discipline as a function of child-rearing. Eighty-nine Americans and 101 Mexicans completed questionnaires to assess for childhood disciplinary experiences, perceptions of being abused, and adult social and psychological functioning. Participants completed the following questionnaires: the Emotional and Physical Abuse Questionnaire (EPAB; Carlin et al., 1994) as modified by Randazzo and Fallon (2009); the Symptom Checklist-90 Items (SCL-90; non-copyrighted version); and the CAGE substance abuse measure (Ewing, 1984). This cross-cultural study employed a quasi-experimental design with two non-random samples. Results indicated that Americans experienced harsher discipline than Mexicans contrary to the study’s hypothesis. Of those that met researcher criteria for abuse, perceptions of physical abuse did not differ significantly by cultural group. Mexicans who were physically abused had lower levels of depression, hostility, and interpersonal sensitivity than physically abused Americans.
Key words: Child-rearing, socialization, physical discipline, physical abuse, cross-cultural differences, ethnic minority groups, Mexico
Relationship between College Students' Binge Eating and Basal Metabolic Index as Moderated by Personality Traits and Gender
Omar Kabha, Fielding's School of Psychology
The aim of this study is to determine whether personality traits, especially conscientiousness and emotional stability neuroticism, and gender are moderators of the observed association between binge eating and obesity. Within this study, there are three main hypotheses to examine: (1) What are the zero-order correlations between binge eating, gender, BMI, neuroticism, and conscientiousness? (2) How much variance in BMI scores can be accounted for by binge eating, gender, neuroticism, and conscientiousness? (3) Do gender and/or the personality traits of neuroticism/ emotional stability and conscientiousness moderate the relationship between binge eating and BMI? A sample of 700 students from the University of Texas at Austin volunteered to complete a survey in which 38% (n = 266) of the students self-identified as binge eaters. Of these students, 52% (n = 158) identified as female and 40% (n = 107) identified as male. The results of the data were based on zero correlation, and hierarchical regression analysis of the variables. The findings generally revealed that there is no interaction between variables but that there is a statistical significant relationship between emotional stability and binge eating and obesity.
Becoming a Part-of: A Classic Grounded Theory of the Role of Parents as Teachers Within the Public Education System
Robert McKenzie, Jr., Fielding's School for Educational Leadership for Change
This grounded theory study examines the role of parents as teachers within the public education system. Becoming a part-of emerged as the core variable that explains the conditions and consequences for parents that underscore the conflict between the home and the public school system. Likewise, it highlights the primary patterns of behavior and the stages that parents at all levels of involvement navigate as they seek to resolve their primary concerns in support of their children.
Becoming a part-of is a process consisting of four stages. The stages serve as a connecting link between the various sets of conditions, circumstances, and properties. They also allow for the theoretical tracing of and accounting for change over time; these stages may be generally perceivable by those persons involved, in this case parents and teachers.
The four stages of becoming a part-of are accessing, agreeing, actioning, and accounting. The accessing stage begins in the home where parents, as their children’s first and most influential teacher, prepare themselves and their children to enter the public education system. The agreeing stage begins in the classroom, where parents and teachers confirm their shared responsibility as educational leaders. The actioning stage involves the best efforts of both of them to engage in mutually inclusive strategies in order to accomplish their educational goals. Finally, the accounting stage comprises their mutual efforts to create a strong foundational connection, to become an accessible, viable, and sustainable part-of the shared parent-teacher educational leadership team.
Through this study I explain the need for further research into practical and meaningful ways to support the strategic positioning and systems integration of parents as teachers and educational leaders.
Key words: grounded theory, classic grounded theory, advocacy, educational leaders, public education, education system, accountability, parent involvement, parent as teacher
Leadership Dynamic Analyzed and Assessed through an Autoethnographical Lens
Michael Patterson, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership for Change
Leadership is one of the most widely written about topics and has increasingly gained mainstream popularity. Countless leadership practitioners and academics often produce works that give advice on how to be an effective leader. Much of this information attempts to examine and typologize existing leadership theories as well as seeking to provide new insights on this complex and diverse area of inquiry (Northouse, 2012). In this dissertation, I explore the vast conceptual and theoretical landscape of leadership within mostly corporate settings through the lens of autoethnography. The overall aim is to present the frames of reference and variations of three distinct leadership models: autocratic, servant, and situational. These are articulated through three vignettes seeking to demonstrate how the culture of each organization played an integral role in the shaping of the leadership philosophies examined (Bergquist & Pawlak, 2008).
Implications of the results for future research and practice as well as the current study’s limitations are discussed. This dissertation seeks to make a contribution to leadership learning by exploring actual situations that occurred during my 30-year leadership tenure, which continues to evolve. This study reveals elements of the nature of leadership while sharing the actual development of an individual learned leadership practice. Names of people and organizations in the vignettes have been changed to protect the confidentiality of all parties.
Keywords: Autoethnography, Autocratic Leadership, Servant Leadership, Situational Leadership, Management, Leadership.
Has Social Media Begun to "Sponsor" Addiction Recovery?: A Study of Face-to-face Versus Online Sobriety Support
Donald S. Grant, Fielding's School of Psychology
Millennial technology offers previously unimaginable opportunities. For those struggling with a dependence to alcohol and/or other mind-altering substances, new computer-mediated platforms provide even the most reticent, introverted, shame-based, compromised, discomfited or isolated individual the option to connect with online sobriety support communities, including, but not limited to, Alcoholics Anonymous. The extent to which these platforms are being engaged (or even potentially supplanting traditional face-to-face sobriety support), as well as any possible differential in efficacy between traditional face-to-face meetings and computer-mediated recovery platforms, are questions which currently present themselves as epochal to both 12 Step program members and healthcare professionals alike. While research on this topic remains extremely limited in terms of scope and breadth, this dissertation includes a quasi-experimental study designed to investigate any potential migration from face-to-face to online recovery, and further test possible significant differences in sobriety support experience, modality preference and efficacy outcomes between face-to-face (F2F) and online-based recovery.
Analyzing of respondent survey results from the Sobriety Support Preference Scale (SSPS) created for this study demonstrated a significant preference of respondents for the F2F (M=7.7, SD=1.54) modality over online sobriety support. Further ANOVA testing revealed that study participants self-report lying more about their sober time while participating in F2F sobriety recovery (M=2.81, SD=3.24) than they do during online engagement. They are also significantly more likely to be drunk or high while participating in F2F sobriety support (M=2.57, SD=3.05) than when doing so online. Further results revealed that participants have not significantly decreased their F2F attendance since engaging with online sobriety support. Finally, additional testing results suggested that greater participation in F2F sobriety support predicts better sobriety success, while greater participation in online sobriety support predicts less.
Keywords: Alcoholics Anonymous, face-to-face, 12 Step meetings, self-help groups, Facebook, online recovery, computer-mediated communication, social media, social networking, online communities, alcoholism, sobriety support, Media Psychology
Personality Change and Virtual Trauma Exposure: The Effects of Viewing Online Child Sexual Exploitation Images on Global Personality Factors of Law Enforcement Investigators
Deborah A. Richardson, Fielding's School of Psychology
This study was conducted to determine whether personality changes in federal investigators as the result of repeatedly viewing digital child sexual exploitation (CSE) images to investigate Internet crimes. The question of whether the nature of digital child sexual exploitation investigation constitutes an abnormal and traumatic event, resulting in changes in stable personality traits and profiles, was investigated. The subjects were 134 Innocent Images investigators assigned to a federal task force to identify children being sexually exploited online. The investigators’16PF 5th edition global factor sten scores changed significantly across all factors, with the most change occurring in Anxiety, Extraversion and Tough-Mindedness. Females were 18% more likely to experience a sten score change in Extraversion than men, and 14% more likely to experience a sten score change in Anxiety than their male counterparts. The most personality change occurred 24-months after the viewing experience began. This study helped to show through the measurement of global personality factor sten score change that investigators who viewed CSE images over a two-year period were impacted by their viewing experience. The Investigator samples’ perceptions about their personality characteristics changed during the time they viewed CSE images. The findings of this research have implications for how individuals working in such assignments should be supported as well as how their employers can develop programs to assist them.
Key words: Child Sexual Exploitation, Virtual Trauma, Personality Change
Attitudes toward Environmental Activism and Conservation: Independence and Norms as Moderators of Commitment to Environmental Sustainability
Kevin Joseph LeGrand, Fielding's School of Human and Organizational Development
This study addresses a central existential question humanity faces: Can we provoke adequate lifestyle change to avert ecological collapse? Prior research asserts the central role of context in shaping behaviors and suggests social contexts supportive of pro-environmental choices may reduce future environmental damage. The question that remains is why do some people act to produce such contexts (i.e., engage in environmental activism) while others, who may be as concerned about the environment, do not?
To help answer this question, this study investigated whether certain individual values (conformity and self-direction assessed by the Portrait Values Questionnaire; Schwartz, Cieciuch, Vecchione, Davidov, Fischer, Beierlein, … Konty, 2012) and perceived social norms moderate relationships between environmental concern and select environmental attitudes. Study results affirm a positive relationship between environmental concern and private-sphere pro-environmental attitudes. Level of independence (calculated as self-direction minus conformity) did not affect this relationship; norm perception (a proxy for context) had a main effect rather than interacting with environmental concern. Turning to public-sphere pro-environmental attitudes, environmental concern was a significant predictor but explained less variance here than for private-sphere attitudes. Independence was associated with greater environmental activism propensity when environmental concern was high. Perceptions of environmental activism as a social norm predicted higher environmental activism propensity across various levels of environmental concern.
This study required the development of a new instrument, the Environmental Activism Propensity (EAP) scale, which measures willingness to act to change social institutions and norms so social contexts encourage pro-environmental behavior. In addition to the study results and the EAP scale, this manuscript presents knowledge and approaches that can be put to practical use by environmental and ecological justice advocates.
Key Words: Environmental Activism, Values, Social Norms, Environmental Attitudes, Pro-Environmental Behaviors
Coach, Know Thyself: The Developmental Consciousness of Professional Coaches
Kimberly Ann Perry, Fielding's School of Human and Organizational Development
This dissertation explores the developmental consciousness (DC) of a sample of
certified professional coaches using Kegan's (1982) constructive
developmental theory as its foundation. Kegan (1994) proposes five
progressively complex stages of human consciousness and his empirical work has
found most in the general population to be at the third stage. Kegan (1994)
argues that, given the complex demands of work and life, adults need to be at
the fourth order of consciousness in order to be successful. In order to
facilitate the transformation of clients, professional coaches arguably will need to be at least the fourth
order of consciousness. However there is little existing research exploring the
DC of coaches. Thirty-six certified professional coaches participated
in a Subject-Object interview (SOI), a validated measure of developmental
consciousness (Lahey, Souvaine, Kegan, Goodman, & Felix, 1988). Results
indicated that over a quarter of coaches (28%) had not achieved fully
the fourth order consciousness. A majority of coaches (66%) had
achieved at least the fourth order or was in transition to the fifth. Only six
percent of the participants had achieved the full fifth order of consciousness.
The research also explored whether the extent of coaching experience and/or the
level of professional certification was positively related to greater
developmental consciousness and surprisingly, found no clear relationships.
Finally, the study examined how coaches at the different levels of
consciousness make meaning of their engagements with clients. A broad typology
of coaches based on their stage of DC is presented. The study found
distinct differences in how coaches at the different levels of DC
construct their engagements via analysis of six themes (anger, conflicted,
changed, success, unsuccessful, and unconditional positive regard). The results
of this study point to the importance of attention to developmental
consciousness in coaching education programs—including providing coaches with
a developmental understanding of where they are on the consciousness spectrum
and ways of increasing coaches' complexity of mind. This research suggests
there are plenty of growth opportunities for coaches to achieve a
greater level of developmental consciousness that will facilitate
transformation in the clients they serve.
Suicidal Ideation: Racial Differences in Risk and Protective Factors among Men in Late-Life
Tracey L. Phillips, Fielding's School of Psychology
Late-life suicide in the United States is a growing concern, yet little attention has been given to the considerable differences in suicide rates between elderly Caucasian and Black American men. This study examined the influence of race, age, and marital status on suicidal ideation as mediated by reasons for living, loneliness, perceived burdensomeness, and thwarted belongingness. In a sample of 120 community-dwelling men aged 65 and older, results indicated that age was not a significant predictor of suicidal ideation; race and marital status were predictors of suicidal ideation through intervening variables reasons for living and perceived burdensomeness, respectively. Black men had more reasons for living related to responsibility to family, moral obligations, and child-related concerns in comparison to Caucasian men. Loneliness and thwarted belongingness were related to marital status, but had no direct or indirect relationship with suicidal ideation. These findings have implications for understanding the risk and protective factors that may benefit suicide prevention efforts and treatment of men in late-life.
An Exploration of Racial Identity, Self-Esteem, and School-Level Diversity for African and African American Adolescents in Seattle, Washington
Dolores Irene Blueford, Fielding's School of Human and Organizational Development
This two-phase, sequential mixed methods research study explored racial identity, self-esteem, and school-level diversity for African and African American adolescents in Seattle, Washington. The study addressed three research questions: 1. What are African American and African adolescents’ perceptions of the salience and meaning attached to their racial identity? 2. What is the significance of the relationship between perceptions of racial identity, interracial contact, and self-acceptance for African American and African adolescents within racially/ethnically diverse schools? 3. What are the lived experiences of African American and African adolescents related to racial identity, self-acceptance, and interracial contact within racially and ethnically diverse high schools?
Four assessment instruments were administered to 68 high school students who self-identified as African or African American, age 15-19 years, in grades 10-12, attending four high schools within the Seattle Public School District. The Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity-Teen (MIBI-T; Scottham, Sellers, & Nyugen, 2008), Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES; 1965), a researcher-modified version of the Interracial Contact Scale (Wegner & Shelton, 1995), and Demographic Data were administered. Nine survey respondents participated in three separate 2-hour small group sessions. One direct student interview was conducted. The representative reliability of the assessment instruments with the research population was a = .84 for the MIBI-T, a = .87 for the RSES, and a = .81 for the IRCS.
Hypotheses that scores on MIBI-T subscales were correlated with self-esteem and with having more and frequent interracial contact were partially supported. Four relevant themes were identified by a thematic analysis of extracted text from the group sessions and participant interview. The integration of the quantitative results and interpretations of the relevant themes resulted in three overarching findings: Participants reported (a) a high level of self-acceptance; (b) identities defined by factors other than race, and primarily by ethnicity, culture, and global concerns; (c) school-level diversity significantly influenced the frequency and quality of intergroup contact. These findings suggest that the growing influence of black immigrants has expanded perceptions and understanding of individual and black racial group identity, and qualitative meaning to being African American. The current study also challenged a prevailing idea of low self-esteem in black adolescents, and affirmed the positive influence of school-level diversity to black adolescents’ self-acceptance and positive intergroup interactions. Finally, the findings questioned the prevailing construct of race as a social and biological imperative, and research factor to exploring identity for adolescent participants.
Key words: adolescents, African, African American, intergroup contact, school-level diversity, self-esteem, race, racial identity
Expatriate Managers’ Conceptions of Their Experience as Managers: A Phenomenographical Study
Jeannie Duncan, Fielding's School of Human and Organizational Development
Expatriate literature provides valuable information about the experience of living overseas, focused primarily on cross-cultural adjustment and improving engagement and retention. This study contributes to the literature by revealing how expatriate managers understand their experiences as managers. Fifteen senior-level expatriate managers working in the mining industry in Indonesia participated in this phenomenographic study of the perceptions they have of their experiences as managers. Findings revealed that expatriate managers view their managerial work as understanding and solving problems. Their perspective on the problems they are to solve and the discretion they have to do it impacts the ways they manage self, people, and the business. Three distinct, increasingly complex role perceptions emerged that define their problem-solving framework: (a) compliance with past practice and maintaining status quo, (b) completing projects and improving project-related processes, and (c) advancing the organization. While there are common approaches to managing across the three role perceptions, some important differentiating behaviors emerged. Suggestions for expatriates and organizations to maximize the experience of managing overseas are discussed, along with limitations of this study and recommendations for future research.
Keywords: expatriation, expatriate manager, cross-cultural leadership, phenomenography
Inspired Self-Directed Learning: How Motivated Children Pilot Their Own Learning Paths
Kristen Miney, Fielding's School for Human and Organizational Development
How motivation drives learning through a self-directed process, especially in childhood, has become a much theorized, researched, and developed topic. Human learning, once recognized as self-driven, was explored with motivation inquiries, defined with self-determined effort studies, and found depth through perseverance findings. Questions that emerged from a review of literature defined my examination into this dynamic: the first recognized experience with inspiration, the self-directed method, and the collaborative engagement.
This research investigated the inspiration that sparks initiative, the self-directedness for developing a plan, and the collaborative mind-set to enlist others in achieving a learning goal. Six fifth- and sixth-grade teachers recommended eight motivated students, of which four student-parent interviews chronicled first recognized experiences with inspiration. Qualitative analysis examined the multiple perspectives around the synergistic themes of ambitious and collaborative learning, analytical intellect and introspective awareness, and supportive circumstances.
Keywords: andragogy, ambition, curiosity, qualitative research, grit and perseverance, initiative, heutagogy, self-directed learning, social learning.
Supports Frontline Workers Identify as Helpful in Their Work with Troubled Youths
Karlene C. Ferron, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership for Change
Troubled youths are vulnerable individuals who rely on the support of human services frontline workers. This study examined the following question: "What supports do frontline workers identify as helpful in their work with troubled youths?" Autoethnography was one of two methodologies that framed the current research and connected the study to my personal journey. I conducted affirmative interviews with 12 frontline workers using the appreciative inquiry method. The major findings were that frontline workers identified the following significant supports: clinical supervision, paid time off, tuition reimbursement, continuing education, reduced paperwork, and collaboration with employers and team members. The findings are consistent with the philosophy of positive psychology, which values authenticity and the opportunity for individuals seeking to continue to grow personally and professionally (Duckworth, Steen, Martin & Seligman, 2005). The therapeutic position requires helping to "build the pleasant life, the engaged life, and the meaningful life" (Duckworth et al., 2005, pp.. 631-641).These results have implications for employers seeking to sustain frontline workers. Team effort might be more effective since schools, communities, and worksites are considered complex ecological systems (Hawe, Shiell & Riley, 2009). Additionally, frontline workers have a responsibility to uphold best practices by gaining the most out of supportive activities. They must perceive it as support not just for them but also to help them help youths and families (Halpern, 1997).
Keywords: Appreciative inquiry, frontline workers support, clinical supervision, employer-employee collaboration, autoethnography
Negative Capability: A Phenomenological Study of Lived Experience at the Edge of Certitude and Incertitude
Anil Behal, Fielding's School of Human and Organizational Development
The study examined what it was like for leaders to be in a state of negative capability during
periods of uncertainty and conflict in the workplace. “Negative Capability” is an expression that
was coined by the English romantic poet John Keats and suggests a peculiar disposition to stay in
mysteries, doubts, and uncertainty without the irritable reaching after fact and reason. Interviews
were conducted using the interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) methodology. The
analysis indicated that the context in which a leader is embedded does not have a significant
bearing on how that individual experiences and makes sense of negative capability. The majority
of leaders interviewed appeared to have a diminished capacity to contain uncertainty when faced
with paradoxical dilemmas. In these situations, they resorted to behaviors such as problem solving,
consulting others, shutting down, and dispersing as a means of defending against the uncertainty.
Exercising servant leadership and the intermingling of the leaders personal and professional
lives were strongly emerging themes.
Keywords: John Keats, negative capability, OCD, paradox, levels of abstraction, certitude,
dialectics, Buddhism, dispersal, social defenses, reframing
Executive Coaching and Self-Efficacy: A Study of Goal-Setting and Leadership Capacity
Carol-Anne Minski, PhD, Fielding’s School of Human and Organizational Development
Executive coaching has been proposed as an intervention that helps executives improve their performance, and achieve the goals of the organization. It is generally accepted that goal-setting is a necessary condition for successful coaching (Grant, 2004
). However, what actually happens in coaching engagements remains a mystery. The purpose of this research was to investigate coaching strategies, and reveal the roles those strategies played in positive goal accomplishment. This dissertation research examined the strategies used by executive coaches to enhance leader’s self-efficacy in goal accomplishment. This was a qualitative descriptive study that utilized a semi-structured interview method with 20 executive coaches. The main focus of the interview was to ask coach participants to describe the specific coaching strategy that takes place during goal-setting with executive clients. Thematic analysis was the method used for identifying, analyzing, and reporting patterns (themes) within data.
A description of what actually happens in the executive coaching engagement to increase self-efficacy was unknown prior to this research. This research has taken the first step to fill that gap in the research literature. As a result of this research, a new a coaching model that coaches can utilize in order to enhance positive goal accomplishment has been discovered. The strategies used by the coaches in this research are based on the following five theories: adaptive leadership, appreciative inquiry, social cognitive theory, adult learning theory, and change theory. Coaches now can have a firmer understanding of how the combination of these evidence-based strategies can influence self-efficacy to accelerate positive goal accomplishment. It is suggested that this model be added to coach training and certificate programs.
Key Words: Executive coach, goal-setting, self-efficacy, social cognitive theory
Secondary Traumatic Stress in Mental Health Providers
Kevin Petersen, Fielding's School of Psychology
A cross-sectional sample of 228 mental health providers completed an online survey to explain the factors relating to the development of secondary trauma in mental health workers. Risk factors were measured by the Life Event Checklist and the Secondary Exposure Scale. The Self-Care Checklist, Shared Power Scale, and the Post Traumatic Growth Inventory Short-Form were used to measure protective factors. A structural equation modeling approach was used to determine the general compatibility of the model with the data, and examine the strength and direction of relationships that predict elevated symptoms of secondary trauma. The results support the compensatory resilience model and suggest that protective factors such as self-care and workplace empowerment are very important in lessening the risk of developing trauma symptoms in mental health professionals.
KEY WORDS: SECONDARY TRAUMA, PROTECTIVE FACTORS, RISK FACTORS
A Narrative Study of the Relationships Between Women Diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Their Therapists
Shari E. Goldstein, Fielding's School of Psychology
The goal of improving therapy experiences for individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) requires that the relationships between this patient population and the clinicians who treat them be better understood (Clearly, Siegfried, & Walter, 2002; Commons-Treloar, 2009; Westen, 1990). Though studies suggest that the therapy relationships of BPD-diagnosed patients are unusually fraught with miscommunications and mutual feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction (Clearly, Siegfried, & Walter, 2002; Fallon, 2003; Muller & Poggenpoel, 1996; Nehls, 1999), little is known about how these tensions develop, particularly from the viewpoint of the patients. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the interpersonal therapy experiences of seven female participants previously diagnosed with BPD using participants’ narratives as the primary data source. An additional purpose was to consider the impact of participants’ object relations patterns on their therapy relationship experiences. Prominent interpersonal patterns were identified from three sources--participants’ narratives, results from the Core Conflictual Relationship Theme-Relationship Anecdotes Paradigm (CCRT-RAP) interview (Luborsky, 1990), and my interpersonal reactions to each participant. The results were analyzed by participant and by group. Identified object relations patterns contributed significantly to each participant’s interpersonal therapy experiences, including experiences of alliance ruptures and outcomes. Sustainability of therapy relationships was closely linked to participant reports of how their therapists responded to interpersonal tensions. As a group, the seven participants desired therapists who demonstrated caring and kindness and who joined them in their experiences through a deep form of listening and validation. These conditions were necessary but not adequate for the development of a healing alliance. Participants also desired clinicians who were confident, skilled, knowledgeable about BPD, and who maintained a collaborative approach, balancing strength with flexibility. Therapist neutrality, withholding, and inactivity were experienced as aversive and participants expressed a desire for explicit evidence of clinician humanity. Though participants were aware of the stigma associated with BPD, especially within the mental health community, they experienced relief and hope in receiving a diagnosis. The results support further investigation into how identified object relations patterns can assist clinicians in developing more intricate conceptualizations of client interpersonal experiences and how these may serve to moderate counter-therapeutic experiences. The significance of therapist contributions to what develops in the interpersonal context is also highlighted.
Key words: borderline personality disorder, therapy relationships, narrative research, object relations, intersubjectivity, reflexivity