Divorced people face multiple individual and interpersonal conflicts like chaotic identity. Defense mechanisms are the processes that make it possible to understand the relationship between a healthy and an unhealthy personality, known as a facilitating factor for a person's well–being and adaptability. Since divorce is on the rise in Iran and women suffer a lot of social and psychological harm in this process, the existence of positive psychological characteristics, such as forgiveness, can prevent such damage in divorced women to some extent. As a third–wave cognitive therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) combines the principles of behavior, mindfulness, and acceptance. The increasing trend of divorce and the resulting personal and social damage to divorced women indicates that psychological treatments are necessary for these people. Therefore, the present study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of ACT on defense mechanisms and forgiveness in divorced women.
This research method was quasi–experimental with a pretest–posttest design with a control group. The study's statistical population comprised divorced women referring to several counseling centers in Tehran (districts 10 and 12) in 2020. The study sample included those women who had been divorced for more than 1 year. The sampling method was random sampling. The sample size in this study was initially 65 applicants referred to counseling centers. Defense Styles Questionnaire (DSQ) (Andrews et al., 1993) and Family Forgiveness Scale (FFQ) (Pollard et al., 1998) were distributed among them. Then, considering their interest in participating in the present study, the samples were reduced to 30 people. Next, they were randomly divided into experimental and control groups (15 people each). Not all of the interviewees in this study were remarried at the time of the interview, and this study was limited to divorced women living without a husband. The inclusion criteria included being a divorced woman, trusting and committed to keeping information confidential, and being willing to cooperate. The study data were gathered in the pretest and posttest for participants of two groups via DSQ and FFQ. The experimental group received ACT in eight 90–minute sessions. However, no treatment was given to the control group. The data were analyzed by analysis of covariance in SPSS software version 24. The significance level of the tests was considered to be 0.05.
The results showed significant differences between the experimental and control groups in the posttest, after removing the effect of the pretest, in the subscales of defense mechanisms, including transformed (p<0.001), untransformed (p<0.001), and psychotic (p<0.001), and in the subscales of forgiveness, including realistic understanding (p<0.001), action compensation (p<0.001), appeasement (p<0.001), and feeling of recovery (p=0.003).
According to the results, ACT effectively improves defense mechanisms and forgiveness in divorced women.
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