Using interpersonal process recall to compare patients’ accounts of resistance in two psychotherapies for generalized anxiety disorder
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In a trial examining whether cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) could be improved by integrating motivational interviewing (MI) to target resistance, MI-CBT outperformed CBT over 12-month follow-up (Westra, Constantino, & Antony, 2016). Given that effectively addressing resistance is both a theoretically and an empirically supported mechanism of MI's additive effect, we explored qualitatively patients' experience of resistance, possibly as a function of treatment. For 5 patients from each treatment who exhibited early in-session change ambivalence, and thus were at risk for later resistance, we conducted interpersonal process recall interviews after a session. Transcripts were analyzed with grounded theory and consensual qualitative research. A salient contrast in patient narratives was a sense of compliance engendered in standard CBT versus connection in MI-CBT. Yet both narratives supported the superordinate category of resistance as an interpersonal process triggered by patient perceptions of therapist beliefs and behaviors. Findings contribute to the conceptualization of resistance from patients' first-hand accounts.
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