Applied Psychology - Doctoral Theses

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    The respondent-type training procedure and derived relational responding in adults and children
    (University College Cork, 1999) Leader, Geraldine; Barnes-Holmes, Dermot
    The training procedures employed in the investigation of stimulus equivalence typically incorporate some form of operant requirement. The purpose of this thesis was to develop a non-operant training procedure that successfully produces equivalence in human populations. In Chapter 1, a brief literature review and rationale for the thesis is offered. In Chapter 2, the effectiveness of the respondent-type training procedure was investigated with adult subjects. Nine nonsense syllables were presented to the subject in the form of six stimulus pairs on a computer screen. The first stimulus of each pair was presented on the screen for 1-s. The screen then cleared for 0.5-s ( the within-pair-delay) and the second stimulus of the pair appeared for 1-s. The screen then cleared for 3-s (the between-pair-delay) before the next stimulus pair was presented. All six stimulus pairs were presented in this fashion in a quasirandom order across 60 trials. Subjects were then presented with a standard matching-to-sample equivalence test, which tested for the emergent symmetry and equivalence relations. The majority of subjects reliably demonstrated equivalence responding after two, three of four exposures to the training and testing. The experiments reported in Chapter 3 investigated the effects of varying the within- and between-pair-delays. It was demonstrated that the respondent-type training procedure is effective using a combination of within- and between-pairdelays and is not limited to the relatively short delays used in Chapters 2 and 3. It was also demonstrated that decreasing stimulus presentations, and increasing class size, did not adversely effect performance on equivalence tests. In Chapter 4, the respondent-type training procedure was systematically compared to the matching-to-sample training procedure. On a trials for trial basis the respondent-type training procedure was shown to be more effective than the matching-to-sample training procedure. The latter procedure was shown to be as effective as the respondent-type training procedure when negative comparisons during matching-to-sample training were removed. Having identified the presence of negative comparisons as a source of disruption in the formation of equivalence classes using the matching-to-sample procedure, the experiments reported in Chapter 5 examined the effects of manipulation the functions of the negative comparisons on equivalence formation. Specifically, during one-to-many matching-to-sample training, the comparisons (e.g., Bl-B2, Cl-C2) are always presented together (comparison contiguity). When the stimulus configuration is manipulated during a matching-to-sample test, children are more likely to respond in accordance with contiguity while adults respond in accordance with the trained relations. The experiments reported in Chapter 6 demonstrated that 5 year old children reliably form equivalence using the respondent-type training procedure. In this chapter class size was increased to a four member class and the effectiveness of the procedure using a linear, one-to-many and many-to-one protocol was also investigated. In Chapter 7, five year old children were successfully taught to form fraction-decimal equivalence using the respondent-type training procedure. Subjects also showed generalisation based of physical similarity. In Chapter 8, the theoretical issues arising from this thesis are discussed.
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    Psychosis: an exploration of intergenerational narratives and family processes
    (University College Cork, 2022-05-05) Kelly, Caoimhe; Veale, Angela; Murphy, Mike; Shine, Liam
    Research highlights the important role that family narratives play in how an individual makes sense of themselves and the world around them. Family narratives can also impact how a person makes sense of their illness. Among individuals experiencing psychosis, families play an integral role in their recovery process. Therefore, it is important to understand the role that families play in a person’s self-narratives. To date, no research has reviewed the evidence that the role families play in an individual’s self-narrative pertaining to their diagnosis of psychosis. Research has also shown that intergenerational narratives, the stories shared between generations, within families, play a role in shaping a person’s sense of self. Families also play an important role in the treatment for individuals experiencing psychosis. Therefore, it is important to understand the narratives within these relationships. This thesis aimed to provide further understanding in these areas through two research papers: a systematic review and a research study. Through a qualitative design, the systematic review aimed to systematically synthesize the available evidence exploring the role of family in the self-narratives among individuals living with psychosis. Findings from this review highlight the important role of families in the self-narratives of people living with psychosis. This has important implications for clinical practice. The aim of the research study in this thesis was to qualitatively explore the inter-generational narratives within and between Irish families living with psychosis, from an experiential perspective through a multi-perspectival Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach. Findings highlighted the important role that intergenerational narratives have on how a person, and family units, understand and make sense of living with psychosis in Ireland. This has important implications for clinical practice and policy makers.
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    An exploration of intergenerational narratives of resilience in families living with psychosis
    (University College Cork, 2022-08-31) Kearney, Ian; Veale, Angela; Murphy, Mike; Lonergan, Edgar; Health Service Executive
    Aim: The experience of psychosis can have devastating impacts on individuals as well as family members who are often integral to the caregiving process. There is a small but growing body of literature exploring the phenomenon of intergenerational resilience. However, little is known about this phenomenon in relation to families living with psychosis in Ireland. This study aimed to explore the development of intergenerational resilience through dyadic interviews with individuals with psychosis and a family member. Method: Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with a total of eight participants (4 service users with a diagnosis of psychosis & 4 parents). Participants were recruited through adult mental health services within Ireland. Data were analysed using a multiperspectival Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach. Results: The multiperspectival IPA yielded a temporal model of family life before, during, and after psychosis with nine overall subthemes generated. A sense of cohesion, optimism, and shared family values helped support families rally together in times of crises. Participants meaning making in the face of psychosis was supported through information and knowledge of the disorder. Separating the effects of psychosis from the person supported long-term commitment and perseverance for caregivers. Conclusion: Findings indicate the experience of psychosis can be traumatic for participants, yet despite this, salient accounts of family resilience were reported, and as such, this study contributes to the growing literature on intergenerational resilience. Professionals can play a vital role in strengthening existing resources within families following psychosis.
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    An exploration of digital therapy: the therapeutic alliance online and psychologists’ experiences and reflections on offering online therapy
    (University College Cork, 2022-05-13) Geary, Christina; Linehan, Conor; Foley, Sarah; Health Service Executive
    Systematic Review: Remotely delivered therapy for mental health disorders is increasingly adopted in health services worldwide. However, evidence of how the implementation of remote therapy affects the therapeutic relationship is disjointed. To synthesise international evidence exploring the sociotechnical features that may play a role in determining a strong therapeutic relationship in remotely delivered therapy for mental health disorders. A qualitative systematic review. A systematic review was conducted up until May 2022, including qualitative studies from EBSCO CINAHL, Medline - PubMed, Embase, PsychInfo and SCOPUS, which explored the therapeutic relationship and alliance of remotely delivered therapies. Twenty-three studies were included. The data were categorised into four themes: 1. Therapists’ enthusiasm for remote therapy facilitates service user buy-in, 2. It is possible to establish a therapeutic relationship in remotely delivered therapy 3. Remote therapy should be implemented as an adjunct to face-to-face therapy, and 4. Technical issues have the potential to disrupt the creation of a safe and trusting atmosphere in remote therapy. Sociotechnical components play a role in determining a strong therapeutic alliance in remotely delivered therapy, such as the characteristics of the therapist and the centrality of technology. Augmenting rather than replacing face-to-face, can assist in identifying areas for the improvement of remote therapy. Empirical Research: Digital technologies can transform healthcare services and may contribute to health system goals of accessibility, quality and equality of healthcare. However, this requires careful consideration of both the technical requirements needed to make online therapy work and sensitivity towards the relational factors required to build a therapeutic alliance. The current study uses Psychologists’ experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated move to online therapy as a critical incident to reflect on the future of digitisation. The socio-technical systems (STS) theory has been adopted as a lens that allows us to interrogate participants' social, technical, interpersonal and organisation experiences of the digitilisation of mental health services. Participants (N=10) were psychologists from Health Service Executive (HSE) Mental Health and Primary Care Services in Ireland who had provided therapeutic intervention online during the Covid-19 pandemic (F= 6, M=4) (age 25- 44). An inductive reflexive thematic analysis generated four themes: 1. Optimizing outreach and engagement through digital therapy; 2. Digital therapeutic disruptions; 3. Understanding what makes online therapy feel like a suboptimal offering; 4. Identifying the enablers to offering effective online therapy. Some psychologists indicated that engaging the online platform could convey a degree of protection and anonymity due to physical distance that was sometimes beneficial to establishing a more intimate connection.
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    Experiences of older adults with anxiety and depression of the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions
    (University College Cork, 2022-05) Cashman, Alice; Murphy, Mike; Wall, Judy
    Background: Research indicates that older adults and individuals with pre-existing mental health difficulties were among the groups particularly at risk of experiencing increased mental health difficulties due to the lockdown restrictions introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Older adults experiencing anxiety and depression may have been particularly vulnerable. Researchers have warned of potential long-term mental health consequences for these older adults and pointed out that the field of geriatric psychiatry is in uncharted territory given the confluence of a global viral pandemic and increased life expectancy. Aims: The aim of the current study is to explore how older adults with pre-existing anxiety and depression experienced and understood the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Participants and setting: Nine older adults, aged 65 years and over, with pre-existing anxiety and depression were recruited from the Older Adult Mental Health Services of the Irish Health Service Executive. Methods: Data were collected via semi-structured interviews. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Results: Six themes were generated, organised under two super-ordinate themes: ‘Sent to the Sidelines’ and ‘The End, or a New Beginning?’ Participants experienced a sense of lost purpose and belonging in society, and experienced feeling no longer needed by society. For some, there was a sense of hopelessness, and that this new way of life was permanent. While for others there remained hope that brighter days would follow. Conclusion: Findings highlight the importance of social connection and belongingness, purpose and meaning, and a sense of agency in the lives of participants.