Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Robert Basso

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the relationship between empathy and cohesion in a social work treatment group. The findings reported below were derived from video recording and analysis of 12 one-hour sessions from one closed residential treatment group. Both group cohesion and empathy were measured with validated rating scales involving observer ratings and self-reports by group members. In addition, a new construct was introduced to the study of group behavior. Interpersonal coordination was imported to this inquiry as a means of examining changing patterns of nonverbal behavior in the treatment group under study. Interpersonal coordination was defined as comprising two behavioural elements, behavioural congruence and interpersonal synchrony. Bivariate cross-correlational time series analysis and hierarchal cluster analysis were employed to examine the changing patterns of interpersonal relationships during each session. Bivariate cross-correlational time series analysis was also utilized to examine the relationship between the behavioural elements of interpersonal coordination and the changing group properties of empathy and cohesion. In addition, the influence of significant events and interpersonal relationships were explored and compared to significant relationships found in personal coordination between group members. This inquiry found a strong positive relationship between empathy and cohesion as well as evidence supporting further investigation of interpersonal coordination as a method for examining the quality of interpersonal bond and affect shared between two group members. The limitations of this inquiry, as well as the implications for future group work practice and research, were also discussed.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Social Work Commons