Life review and reminiscence group therapy among senior adults



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This dissertation investigated the salient themes in the lives of senior adults. Senior adults now constitute the largest demographic category in the United States. Thus, there continues to be a greater need for counselors to understand and be sensitive to the needs of senior adults. A case study format served as the method of this qualitative study based on a grounded theory approach. A group of senior adults (n=10; 3 men, 7 women; all were European-American who lived all or most of their life in West Texas) ages 84 to 91 participated in twelve one-hour group counseling sessions using a life review and reminiscence approach. The sessions were recorded and the transcripts of these sessions were analyzed using a thematic coding procedure. The participants were also asked about their experience in group therapy and their thoughts about life review and reminiscence therapy in particular. The counselor's experience working with senior adults was also explored.

The results of the counseling transcripts indicated the following themes: Use of humor, role of expert, importance of significant relationships, reminiscing about food, independence and survival, health and vitality, family traditions and rituals, death and related existential issues, reflections on education, acceptance, leisure and recreation, values on religion and politics, and issues related to personal finance. In general, the participants enjoyed the counseling experience and were not apprehensive about participating. They experienced a sense of commonality and personal empowerment. The counselor reported that the participants were insightful and allowed the counselor to make mistakes. In conclusion, a better understanding of the needs of senior adults will enable counselors to become more effective in counseling this population. Group counseling using life review and reminiscence strategies appeared to be an effective approach in helping senior adults deepen social connectedness and allowing them to share their lived experiences which the members agreed were enjoyable and beneficial. Future research should consider the use of life review and reminiscence therapy in an individual counseling setting and the effects of counseling on the physical health of senior adults.