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Use of Social Support in Therapy as a Function of Clinicians' Theoretical Orientation, Treatment Setting, and Self-Perceived Social Support
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Social support serves as a protective factor and a change agent in mental health. Research suggests that social support helps facilitate therapeutic change and reduce client symptomology across numerous presenting concerns. Despite the well-established nature of social support’s usefulness in the therapeutic process, no research has explored the degree to which social support interventions are utilized in therapy. Little is known about psychologists’ use of support or factors that may impact social support use. To address this gap in the literature, the present study explored psychologists’ use of social support in individual therapy, as well as the relationships among psychologists’ use of social support, theoretical orientations, treatment settings, and self-perceived social support. 178 psychologists of various theoretical orientations, treatment settings, and levels of self-perceived support participated in the study. Social support use was measured with a self-report survey. Confirmatory factors analyses of the survey supported a two-factor structure for social support use, with one factor related to the use of interventions involving the teaching of skills/information and the second factor related to the use of interventions involving enacted behaviors and overall application of social support interventions. Descriptive statistics revealed normal distributions of social support use among psychologists for both factors of use, suggesting that social support interventions are not underutilized within the field. Two-way ANOVAs revealed that neither psychologists’ theoretical orientation nor treatment setting had a significant effect on use of social support for both factors. A significant interaction effect between theoretical orientation and primary treatment setting was found for use of enacted interventions and overall application of interventions. Results of simple linear regressions showed that psychologists’ perceptions of their own social support did not significantly predict use of social support in individual therapy. However, results of multiple linear regressions showed that when controlling for perceived social support and treatment setting, theoretical orientation appeared to significantly predict use of enacted interventions and overall application of social support interventions. This study provides a valuable initial analysis of psychologists’ use of social support in individual therapy. As such, it yields meaningful implications for psychologists, future research, and the field of psychology overall.
Terrebonne, Taylor Marie Glacier (2019). Use of Social Support in Therapy as a Function of Clinicians' Theoretical Orientation, Treatment Setting, and Self-Perceived Social Support. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from