Communications Project

Document Type:Dissertation
Name:G. Alan Willard
Title:Using An Integrated Competency-Based Group Therapy Approach in Building Adult Caregiver Strengths
Degree:Doctor of Philosophy
Department:Family and Child Development
Committee Chair: Rosemary Blieszner
Committee Members:Karen Rosen
Sandra Stith
Elisabeth Koball
Howard Protinsky
Keywords:caregiver, strength, ethnography, group therapy, solution-focused, competency-based
Date of defense:April 16, 1998
Availability:Release the entire work for Virginia Tech access only.
After one year release worldwide only with written permission of the student and the advisory committee chair.


The purpose of this project was two-fold. First the intent was to learn about the strengths of caregivers and bring the more latent view of caregivers as "strengthed" rather than stressed to the forefront. Second, the study explored the usefulness of applying a competency-based therapy approach to caregiver issues and experiences. Specifically, twelve caregivers of adults were self-referred and participated in a weekly group over the course of a six week time frame. The study addressed a gap of a strength discourse in the literature on adult caregivers, and also provides important information about the breadth of the applicability of a competency-based therapy approach with older adults in a group setting. A qualitative research design was employed, the approaches of ethnography and action research were the specific types of qualitative methods for this project. An analysis was performed of qualitative data that consisted of transcripts of fieldnotes and audiotaped focus group interviews. Six major themes that emerged from the analysis of the data included: self-care, guidance, togetherness, separation, relationship with family members, and caregivers as experts. These themes are discussed as they relate to caregiver strengths. Suggestions for future research and for clinical practice are considered in conjunction with the need to provide valuable information about family enrichment with caregivers, and new interventions that build on a strength discourse.

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