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Therapeutic Change in Group Therapy For Interpersonal Trauma: A Relational Framework for Research and Clinical Practice



Angela Gullone

Sandra Ferguson

Katie Cosgrove

Claire Burke Draucker


Our understanding of therapeutic change processes in group therapy for complex interpersonal trauma has been limited. The present study aimed at addressing this gap by developing a framework of therapeutic change in this field from a survivor and therapist perspective. This is a qualitative study, which utilized semistructured individual interviews. Transcripts were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to identify recurrent themes. A final sample of n = 16 patients and n = 5 facilitators completed the interview. Main change processes identified by survivors were as follows: self versus others, trust versus threat, confrontation versus avoidance, and “patching up” versus true healing. Therapeutic processes identified by therapist facilitators included managing group dynamics, unpredictability and uncertainty, and process versus content. The proposed framework explains therapeutic change in group therapy in relational terms, that is, therapeutic dissonance, the dynamic interaction of self and experience as well as building empathic trusting relations. The importance of managing dissonance to aid personally meaningful recovery was highlighted. These findings have implications for the usefulness of relational and person-centered approaches to clinical practice in the area of interpersonal and complex trauma, especially in the early identification, prevention, and management of dropouts.


Chouliara, Z., Karatzias, T., Gullone, A., Ferguson, S., Cosgrove, K., & Burke Draucker, C. (2020). Therapeutic Change in Group Therapy For Interpersonal Trauma: A Relational Framework for Research and Clinical Practice. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 35(15-16), 2897-2916.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 1, 2016
Online Publication Date Apr 24, 2017
Publication Date 2020-08
Deposit Date Jan 24, 2017
Journal Journal of Interpersonal Violence
Print ISSN 0886-2605
Electronic ISSN 1552-6518
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 15-16
Pages 2897-2916
Keywords Complex trauma, recovery, group therapy, qualitative, clinical framework.
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