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Moments of Assimilation and Accommodation in the Bereavement Counselling Process

Wilson, John Frederick (2017) Moments of Assimilation and Accommodation in the Bereavement Counselling Process. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Based on the proposition of leading researchers who view grieving as a process of meaning-making and adaptation, the author posited that grief resolution requires learnt adaptation to loss via a process of assimilation and accommodation. This is analogous to constructivist learning seen in children; a view supported by adherents to the psychology of personal constructs. This position was tested with a theory-building case study approach devised by Stiles (2007). An observational protocol was devised which reconciles scientific positivism with relativist methodologies. The counselling sessions of ten bereaved clients were digitally recorded and the transcriptions were subjected to assimilation analysis. Client progress was scored using Stiles’ (2001) Assimilation of Problematic Experiences Scale (APES). Scores were subjected to inter-rater reliability measures to mitigate observer bias. The biology of grief, as evolved adaptive behaviour, was explored. The role of adaptation through assimilation appeared pertinent for some, but not all clients; particularly those whose assumptive world was little changed by their loss. The part played by resilience in adaptation had also been underestimated. However, every client was observed assimilating and accommodating new schemas in relation to the loss. Three categories of meaning were identified: managing the grief, accepting the circumstances of the death, and renegotiating the relationship with the deceased. Using APES as a template, the author devised the Assimilation of Grief Experiences Sequence (AGES) to chart clients’ meaning-making progress towards successful grief resolution. These findings indicate a need for prudence in offering grief counselling, with a primary focus on complicating issues, rather than attachment distress. Future research in a number of areas is suggested, including developing AGES as an outcomes measure, the part played by personal resilience on grief resolution, and the role of the counsellor in facilitating the assimilation of helpful schemas; research which has implications for counsellor training.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Bereavement, Counselling, Grief, Assimilation, Accommodation
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > University of York St. John
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.715078
Depositing User: Mr John Frederick Wilson
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2017 11:34
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2018 09:55
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17661

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