Comparison of a Cognitive Behavioral Plus Life Review Intervention and a Life Review Only Intervention for Retired Adults Over Age 65
Schwartz-Oscar, Samantha Jo
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Life review therapy was developed based upon Erik Erikson's Theory of Psychosocial Development, and in particular his research on the final developmental stage in life, Integrity versus Despair. According to Erikson, reminiscing in later life leads to a greater sense of integrity and life satisfaction. However, the results of existing research are somewhat inconclusive. This study added a cognitive-behavioral component to the life review intervention and compared it to a traditional life review intervention group for older adults. Participants were adults over aged 65 who had been retired for at least one year and were recruited from two rural U.S. college towns and their surrounding areas. Individuals were assigned to a CBT+Life Review intervention group or a Life Review only intervention group. Both groups received six group sessions. Both groups received support and interest from the group facilitator and other group members; however, the CBT+Life Review group also received cognitive-behavioral interventions for reframing negative thinking regarding their past memories. However, the groups seemed to progress similarly as many of the participants in both groups had positive coping methods and outlooks on their lives already established. These observations are consistent with the participants' scores at pre-test which indicated low levels of psychological distress. Participants in the CBT+Life Review group did not present dysfunctional, negative cognitions/attitudes requiring, or that would benefit from CBT interventions. Data on participant depression, hopelessness, ego integrity, life satisfaction, and wellbeing were collected at pretest, posttest, and three month follow-up. A repeated measures MANOVA showed a statistically significant effect from pretreatment to three month follow-up for both groups on life satisfaction. Follow-up ANOVAs also showed a statistically significant effect from pretreatment to post treatment on depression, ego integrity, and life satisfaction. The results support the effectiveness of life review interventions. Future research should investigate the efficacy of CBT + Life Review and Life Review interventions for participants experiencing greater levels of psychological distress.