Exploration of the relevance of values to clinical interventions and working with Mentally Disordered Offenders
Tansey, Louise Sarah Bridget
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The relevance of individuals' values to clinical situations is increasingly recognised in political and clinical contexts. Enhancing an individual's capacity to live consistently with their values is assumed to facilitate mental well-being and quality of life (QoL). However, little research has empirically investigated whether this focus is appropriate. This collection of studies will examine the relationship between values, well-being and QoL. "Valued living" is a core aim of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) but it has received little empirical attention. The values identified within ACT may not be equally applicable to all clinical populations. Encouraging value-consistent action is often assumed to be inappropriate to offender populations. Schwartz‟s universal model of human values is introduced to inform understanding of the relationship between values and well-being and whether mentally disordered offenders (MDOs) have similar values to a non-psychologically distressed comparison group. Method Study 1 investigated the relationship between values, quality of life (QoL), psychological distress and psychological inflexibility (cognitive fusion and experiential avoidance) amongst a sample from the non-clinical sample (N = 109) using an online survey. Study 2 compared a subsample from study 1 with MDOs detained in medium security (N = 15) on the same measures. Study 3 explored participants‟ beliefs about the origin and maintenance of meaningful values. Responses were coded according to ACT literature and analysed using content analysis. Results Amongst the non-clinical population, QoL was positively correlated with „valued living‟, and negatively correlated with psychological inflexibility and distress. Psychological distress and psychological inflexibility correlated positively with the Openness to Change value domain and conservatism correlated negatively with psychological distress. No other relationships were observed between psychological flexibility or distress and value domain in the non-clinical population. MDOs had higher rates of psychological distress and lower psychological flexibility and QoL than the non-distressed population; they also attributed less importance to the self-transcendence value domain and more to self-enhancement. Benevolence was ranked significantly lower by the MDO sample. Other large effect sizes were detected reflecting differences between the samples, but they were not statistically significant. Intrinsic reinforcement was considered an important factor that maintained values as meaningful to all participants. Self-report data suggests that there are similarities and differences to how each sample conceptualises values. Discussion A clinical focus on values appears to be justified. The addition of Schwartz‟s model provided insight into the values of MDOs. The clinical and theoretical implications of the results are discussed as are the strengths and limitations of the study.