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Gepubliceerd in: Cognitive Therapy and Research 2/2021

20-09-2020 | Original Article

“What Might Have Been…”: Counterfactual Thinking, Psychological Symptoms and Posttraumatic Growth When a Loved One is Missing

Auteurs: Cecilia Kennedy, Frank P. Deane, Amy Y. C. Chan

Gepubliceerd in: Cognitive Therapy and Research | Uitgave 2/2021

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Abstract

Background

When a person goes missing, those left behind are at heightened risk of mental health difficulties. Little research has examined variables that may play a role in the development of psychopathology among this population and in particular, variables that may be amenable to change through targeted psychological intervention. One cognitive process that commonly occurs following adverse life events and has been linked to heightened psychological symptoms is counterfactual thinking (thoughts of “what might have been”; CFT). This study investigated the role of various qualities CFT in relation to psychological symptoms and posttraumatic growth among people with a missing loved one.

Method

People with a missing loved one (N = 110) completed measures of counterfactual thinking, psychological distress, prolonged grief, posttraumatic stress and posttraumatic growth. Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted.

Results

Frequency of CFT was associated with all psychological symptom measures. Upward counterfactuals (imagining how things could have been better) were largely associated with heightened psychological symptoms. Downward counterfactuals (imagining how things could have been worse) were not associated with psychological distress or prolonged grief but, were positively related to posttraumatic stress reactions and to posttraumatic growth. The effect of counterfactual object of reference on psychological outcomes differed with respect to symptom presentation.

Conclusions

Various types of CFT are differentially related to psychological symptoms with downward CFT facilitating posttraumatic growth in some individuals. Implications for psychological interventions are discussed.
Literatuur
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Metagegevens
Titel
“What Might Have Been…”: Counterfactual Thinking, Psychological Symptoms and Posttraumatic Growth When a Loved One is Missing
Auteurs
Cecilia Kennedy
Frank P. Deane
Amy Y. C. Chan
Publicatiedatum
20-09-2020
Uitgeverij
Springer US
Gepubliceerd in
Cognitive Therapy and Research / Uitgave 2/2021
Print ISSN: 0147-5916
Elektronisch ISSN: 1573-2819
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-020-10156-7

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