Group climate development in cognitive and interpersonal group therapy for social phobia
This study was designed as a longitudinal study of 80 participants in cognitive group therapy (RCT, n = 40) and interpersonal group therapy (RIPT, n = 40) for social phobia during 10 weeks of residential therapy. The aim was to investigate the patterns of group climate development and its impact on treatment outcome. Data were collected using MacKenzie’s Group Climate Questionnaire (GCQ) 4 times during treatment, and a multilevel (mixed) model approach was used in the analyses. Engagement in RCT groups showed a linear increase during treatment in contrast to a linear decline among patients in RIPT groups. This divergence might be explained by the focus on extragroup and intragroup relationships in RCT and RIPT, respectively. Neither conflict nor avoidance followed the expected pattern, nor did their mean levels influence outcome. However, when 6 extreme values of conflict were removed, there was support for a low–high–low pattern of conflict. In general, these results do not support MacKenzie’s generic model of group climate development but suggest that sample characteristics, treatment models, and setting can play major roles in determining the group climate. Of the group climate variables, only the mean level of engagement predicted a change in social anxiety over the course of treatment.