Date of Graduation

7-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders

Advisor

Kristi Perryman

Committee Member

Paul Blisard

Second Committee Member

Michelle Gray

Third Committee Member

Ro DiBrezzo

Fourth Committee Member

Samantha Robinson

Keywords

co-regulation, couples therapy, emotionally focused therapy, polyvagal theory, psychophysiology

Abstract

Mental health literature emphasizes the necessity of expanding emotional regulation to improve symptomology of a variety of mental health disorders. Coregulatory experiences have been shown to expand individual emotional regulation and are more likely in relationships with secure attachment. Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is focused on developing secure attachment between partners. This study examined the coregulatory effects of EFT with a single couple over the course of couples’ counseling. The participating couple received eight couples’ counseling sessions from a clinician who is a certified EFT trainer, supervisor, and therapist while having their heart rate, electrodermal activity, and skin temperature taken during the sessions. Surrogate synchrony analysis (SUSY) was used to assess physiological synchrony between the couple over their sessions. Heart rate variability was also calculated. The degree of relationship between the heart rate variabilities of the couple was measured using linear regression. While the results of the study did not show significant increases in physiological synchrony between the couple, the results emphasize the presents of in and out of synchrony pendulation occurring between the couple as well as the presence of lagged synchrony as the couple responds according to the partner’s experience. Implications for future research are also included.

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