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COMMITMENT TO COUNSELING: EFFECTS OF MOTIVATIONAL INTERVIEWING AND CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENTS ON HELP-SEEKING ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIOR

THOMAS PATRICK BRENNAN, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

The primary purpose of the present research was to attempt to enhance client receptivity and commitment to utilize professional counseling services. A second purpose of the current study was to examine the relationship between help-seeking attitudes and help-seeking behavior. The concept of commitment to counseling was examined in terms of underlying decision-making dynamics and within a counseling context. Conflict and dissonance theories were utilized to understand the development and maintenance of commitment to decisions. An interpersonal influence model of counseling was utilized to account for factors that facilitate or mitigate against commitment to change within a counseling relationship. Within this framework, a number of techniques demonstrated to be useful for enhancing commitment were identified from a review of the literature. Commitment-enhancement techniques were applied in an Employee Assistance Program (E.A.P.) setting in an attempt to improve subjects' help-seeking attitudes and to increase their commitment to engage in counseling services. One hundred and twelve subjects were randomly divided into two treatment groups: (1) experimental (subjects who received the E.A.P. motivational interviewing process plus contractual agreements), and (2) control (subjects who received E.A.P. motivational interviewing only). All subjects completed the Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help scale prior to and after exposure to treatment. Attitude scale scores and the number of subjects who followed-through with recommended referrals served as dependent variables. Three factorial designs were utilized to analyze the differential effects of the commitment-enhancement treatment procedures on subjects' help-seeking attitudes and follow-through rates. A point biserial correlation was used to examine the relative follow-through predictive power of pre- and post-treatment attitude scores. Study results indicate that the E.A.P. motivational interviewing process is effective in increasing commitment to counseling. Help-seeking attitude scores increased significantly pre-to-post treatment in both conditions. The addition of contractual agreements to the motivational interviewing process, however, had no significant effect on either of the dependent measures. The two treatment groups were found to have similar pre-post attitude score changes and the number of subjects who followed-through in each group was comparable. Study results also indicate that help-seeking attitudes were positively, but not significantly, related to help-seeking behavior. Study results were discussed in terms of previously reviewed theory and research. Limitations of study findings because of possible selection bias and ceiling effects were examined. Suggestions for future research were briefly outlined.

Subject Area

Psychology

Recommended Citation

BRENNAN, THOMAS PATRICK, "COMMITMENT TO COUNSELING: EFFECTS OF MOTIVATIONAL INTERVIEWING AND CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENTS ON HELP-SEEKING ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIOR" (1982). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI8228145.
https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI8228145

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