Attribution theory and marriage guidance counselling

Roy, Jane Christine (1988). Attribution theory and marriage guidance counselling. PhD thesis The Open University.



This research is concerned with some aspects of the counselling process within Marriage Guidance Council Counselling sessions. The first area of investigation chosen was the interaction of the counsellors image of the ideal client with her perceived image of real clients. Unfortunately, it was not possible to pursue this investigation since not all of the counsellors images of who would benefit from counselling were sufficiently stable over time. This was felt to be due to the test used (the California Q set). The second chosen area of investigation was the client counsellor verbal interaction in first counselling sessions studied using transcripts of ten female and four male clients and two couples counselled by the researcher and one woman and one couple counselled by another counsellor. The content was analysed using attribution theory. Clients made attributions from a wider range of categories than experimental studies normally allow for, the most frequently used category was emotion and attitude attributions, this is a neglected category which needs further study. The results did not support previous findings that people make Significantly more situational than personality attributions about their own behaviour. Clients have response strategies they use to reply to the counsellor, some of these are blocking strategies since they result in the counsellor dropping the subject being discussed; others are positive responses since they lead to the client· and counsellor engaging in a dialogue. All clients living with their partners who returned for a second session engaged in at least one extended dialogue with the counsellor about an attribution made by the counsellor. None of the clients who failed to return engaged in an extended dialogue with the counsellor.

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