Broder, M. —A Descriptive Study of a Program Designed to Help Participants To Deal With Issues Related To Divorce And Separation from Long-Term Relationships. Doctoral Dissertation (Dissertation Abstracts International: Volume 42, Number 2), Temple University, 1981.

A Descriptive Study Of A Program Designed To Help Participants To Deal With Issues Related To Divorce and Separation From Long-term Relationships

Michael S. Broder, Ph.D.

The purpose of this study was to describe the process and outcome of a program designed especially to help people who are dealing with the emotional and logistical issues of divorce and separation.

The program–ROADS (Rational Options in Adjusting to Divorce and Separation)–consisted of an all-day 8-hour workshop and a 3-hour follow up session about 4 weeks later. In between the workshop and follow up sessions, all subjects met in leaderless support groups that consisted of four to six same sex members of the program. These support groups were formed during the all day workshop.

The study sought to determine whether the program would aid its 45 subjects in disentangling from relationships and thereby help them to adjust to divorce. Given the limitations of the design of this study, the program did meet these expectations, and the results appeared to be replicated in both ROADS groups used in this study. In addition, data regarding the specific issues and emotions subjects were most aware of at the beginning of the program along with an evaluation of it and how much these issues and emotions were perceived by subjects to have changed at the conclusion of the 4 week program was also collected. Loneliness and grieving issues were the most prevalent in both groups.

Eight to 10 weeks after the conclusion of the program, 10 subjects picked at random from each group were interviewed. This was done in order to collect data to determine how they saw the program as having affected them and their next step in adjusting to their divorce or separation. Again, given the limitations of the design, subjects generally saw improvement in the issues and emotions named at the beginning and felt that the program was helpful in their divorce adjustment.

A review of the literature supported the notion that divorce adjustment groups are effective vehicles to provide support for those going through this transitional stage that is often characterized by the loss of not only one’s love relationship, but one’s support system, as well. The program sought to incorporate within a cognitive behavioral framework, those approaches that have been most successful in helping this population to disentangle from an ended love relationship by supporting subjects through the natural stages of divorce adjustment.

The procedures for analyzing the data employed in this study were: content analysis to summarize the issues and emotions and their perceived change at the end of the program; correlated t-tests were performed to determine whether there was a significant difference between pre- and post scores on the Fisher’s Divorce Adjustment Scale (FDAS) total divorce adjustment and disengagement scores. There were significant pre/post differences on all t-tests. A product moment correlation between FIRO-B scales and the FDAS total gain score was performed to determine whether a relationship existed. The only significant relationship observed was between the FDAS gain scores and the FIRO-B expressed inclusion scale (-.33). Finally, interview data was reported verbatim and patterns in response were noted.

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