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The impact of mixed, hope and forgiveness-focused marital counselling on interpersonal cognitive distortions of couples filing for divorce

Authors

  • A. Navidian MSc PhD,

    Assistant Professor, Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, Health Promotion Research Center, Zahedan University of Medical Sciences, Zahedan, Iran
    • Correspondence:

      A. Navidian

      Department of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing

      Health Promotion Research Center

      Zahedan University of Medical Sciences

      Zahedan

      Iran

      E-mail: alinavidian@gmail.com

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  • F. Bahari PhD

    Assistant Professor
    1. Department of Counseling, Science and Research Arak Branch, Islamic Azad University, Arak, Iran
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Abstract

Accessible summary

  • Hope and forgiveness are effective strategies for reducing family conflicts. These are two modern approaches for resolving marital conflicts. Merging hope- and forgiveness-focused interventions can be used to decrease irrational marital beliefs among couples. Divorce is the most common outcome of conflicts among couples, who seek counselling going through the process of divorce.
  • The study explores the effects of mixed, hope- and forgiveness-focused interventions on couples filing for divorce in Isfahan, Iran. In hope-focused counselling, it seeks to strengthen relationship of married couples and reduce the rate of divorce. Forgiveness is a curative approach used in marriage therapy, suggested for helping manage the feelings of resentment and anger related to being hurt by separation.
  • Results emphasize that hope-oriented interventions had no effect on the total number of interpersonal cognitive distortions in comparison with the control group. A similar pattern was observed in the forgiveness group. In contrast, a comparison of the mixed and control groups revealed significant differences, indicating that mixed interventions were significantly more effective than a non-intervention control period in reducing the two dimensions of interpersonal irrational expectations and misconceptions among divorcing couples.

Abstract

Divorce and conflict are overlapping processes. Previous findings suggest that spirituality-related interventions in mental health nursing may play a significant role in reducing the level and amount of conflict. We examined the effects of hope and forgiveness-focused marital counselling and a combination of the two intervention types on interpersonal cognitive distortions of couples filing for divorce in Isfahan, Iran. We conducted a quasi-experimental study with a pre-test and post-test design. Of 440 couples referred to the Crisis Intervention Center undergoing pre-divorce counselling, 60 were randomly assigned to four groups: hope-focused, forgiveness-focused, mixed and control. Data were gathered using the Interpersonal Cognitive Distortions Scale and analysed using the non-parametric Kruskal–Wallis, Mann–Whitney's U and Wilcoxon tests. Hope- and forgiveness-focused interventions did not have a significant effect on the total number of interpersonal cognitive distortions in comparison with the control group. However, the mixed intervention significantly reduced irrational expectations and interpersonal rejection among couples. Combining hope- and forgiveness-focused interventions can be used to decrease irrational marital beliefs among couples. In addition, rating the level of conflict among couples is important for determining the type of intervention that should be used by mental health nurses (psycho-educational or therapeutic).

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