In September 2012, Jaap van der Meiden started a PhD research on the relevance and applicability of Contextual Therapy. This research is conducted from within the Research Group Youth and Family of the Academy of Social Sciences, part of the Christian University of Applied Studies Ede, in collaboration with the Institute Contextual Approach. Supervisor is Prof. Dr. Hans van Ewijk, Professor foundations of social work at the University for Humanist Studies in Utrecht. Assistent-supervisor is Martine Noordegraaf, Lector Youth and Families.
Contextual theory and practice are based on the conviction that the prospect of trust among people is rooted in the degree of interhuman justice that exists between them (Boszormenyi-Nagy & Krasner, 1986, p. 37).
The Contextual therapy by Ivan Boszormenyi - Nagy is based on the assumption that the quality of relationships is determined by the balance of fairness (Boszormenyi - Nagy & Krasner, 1986). This study describes the core elements of the contextual theory . Furthermore this research describes how these core elements are applied in Contextual Therapy and how cliënts experience its efficacy. The findings exhibit the applicability for therapy and improve its transferability.
How is the contextual theory of Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy applied in Contextual Therapy and how can these findings enrich both Social Work and Therapy?
- What is the foundational theory under the Contextual Therapy, what are its key elements and how are they are supported by scientific research?
- How are the core elements of the contextual theory visible and used in Contextual Therapy?
- Do cliënts appreciate Contextual Therapy and what do they say about the results of the treatment?
- How can contextual theory and therapy be an enrichment for Social Work?
- How can the findings of the research into sub-questions 2 and 3 enrich the implementation of a contextual therapy process?
This study has three perspectives: a research on the theory, a qualitative, descriptive and explorative research into how this theory is applied in Contextual Therapy and an exploration of how this can enrich both social work and therapy.
For investigating the contextual theory, a critical review of the literature of Boszormenyi-Nagy and other authors is cinducted.
Based on this research, the contextual theory will be distinguished into core elements, resultin in the following core elements: justice, reliability, intergenerational solidarity, loyalty, balance of giving and receiving and entitled entitlement. These core elements are the ingredients for a model that supports the transferability of the theory. They also form a framework for the analysis of the therapy sessions as referred to in sub-question 2 and 3.
The second research enhances a qualitative analysis of therapy sessions by registered contextual therapists. These sessions are conducted with clients seeking help for parent -- child problems, including problems between parent(s) and adult child(ren). The analysis focuses in particular on the interventions of the therapist. Analysing the reactions of the client provide insight into the impact of the interventions. In particular, cross-case analysis of therapy session provide insight into the applicability of the contextual theory in therapy . Answering this question - how is helpful in more portable and suitable use of the contextual theory .
The findings will be discussed in focus groups of contextual therapists.
The research on sub-questions 2 and 3 concerns a qualitative analysis of therapy sessions by Nagy and by experienced contextual therapists. The analysis focuses in particular on the therapists' interventions. In particular, cross-case analyzes of therapy sessions provide insight into the way different therapists apply the contextual theory in therapy. Answering the question how they do this, is helpful in making the contextual theory more transferable and applicable.
Subquestion 4 concerns an exploration of the extent to which social work, a type of work that also focuses on (restoration of) justice (social justice), can be enriched with contextual theory and interventions.
Sub-question 5 combines the findings of the analysis of the practices of Nagy and of the contemporary therapists into a model for conducting contextual therapy.
The above study sheds light on the main question. The core elements from the contextual theory are formulated and tested. Subsequently, it is examined how this theory is applied in social work and therapy.
The study is expected to be completed in 2017-2018.
About Jaap van der Meiden
Jaap van der Meiden is social worker, contextual therapist and Master Contextual Approach (MCA). He is the founder and manager of the Institute Contextual Approach, trainer contextual therapy and researcher at the Research Group Youth and Family of the Academy of Social Sciences, part of the Christian University of Applied Studies Ede. He has his own practice on Contextual Therapy.