Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Dr. Scott Gaynor
Dr. Amy Naugle
Dr. Brooke Smith
Dr. Roger Apple
Functional analytic psychotherapy, reinforcement, connectedness
Functional Analytic Psychotherapy emphasizes using social interactions in the therapeutic relationship to enhance interpersonal outcomes. The proposed mechanism of action in FAP is reinforcement provided by the therapist responding contingently to client improvements as they occur in session. The result is a stronger therapeutic relationship and improved social relating in daily life. Generalization is expected due to functional similarities inherent in interpersonal interactions and explicit attempts to link in-session learning to clients’ life via verbal descriptions and homework. The present study was a laboratory-based analog of the proposed processes occurring in FAP.
Using a modified fast friends’ procedure (FFP) and an alternative treatments cross-over design, the self-disclosures of 45 participants resulted in either FAP style contingent responding or reflective listening (RL). While RL involved summarizing and asking clarifying questions, FAP responding involved sharing a personal reaction by expressing the impact of the participant’s statement or in-room behavior, empathizing or validating. Participants completed the IOS and CS-RA6 self-report measures of connectedness throughout to test the hypothesis that participants would report greater connectedness with the research assistant following FAP versus RL responding. Additionally, participants were randomized to either an explicit generalization condition or a naturalistic generalization condition. In the explicit condition, participants were asked how they would apply what was learned in the FFP in a specific close relationship and encouraged to so do, while the naturalistic generalization condition relied on the participant to carry over any learning on their own. The FAPIS and SCS were collected prior to participating and at one week after participation to test the hypothesis that participants in the explicit generalization condition would report greater connectedness in daily life.
Due to COVID-19, 20 of the 45 participants completed the protocol virtually. Connectedness ratings increased significantly over the course of the FFP and were higher following FAP blocks compared to RL blocks. The effect size favoring FAP was small (d = .22; d = .19), but notable given the general utility of RL in fostering connectedness. The generalization condition did not significantly impact ratings of connectedness with a close other although non-significant trends favored the generalization condition. Change in connectedness during the FFP predicted changes in daily life connectedness.
Consistent with the hypothesis derived from FAP, the results suggested that individualized, genuine responses to participant self-disclosure offered value-added to RL in promoting interpersonal connection. Explicit attempts to link experiences during the FFP to daily life and specifically encourage implementation did not reliably produce greater self-reported intimacy with a specified close companion. It may have been that the parallels to daily life were face validly obvious to participants rendering the explicit generalization discussion redundant. The results generally support the FAP model of change and recommend m
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Rausch, Rebecca, "Contingent Reinforcement and Instructed Generalization in a Laboratory Analog of Functional Analytic Psychotherapy: A Mixed Within-Group, Between-Group Design" (2021). Dissertations. 3769.