Cohesive experiences of young women in support groups: A phenomenological study
The present study investigated young adult women's perceptions of cohesion to determine the common elements of cohesion and to identify the essential structure of cohesion. Eight women between the ages of 24 and 45, who were actively involved as support group members, were interviewed. Interviews followed guidelines designed to elicit descriptions of cohesion and were semi-structured in format.
Analysis of the data yielded findings which included a description of the experience of cohesion and indicated the importance of qualitative research in concept clarification. Based upon the findings of this investigation, the concept of cohesion is defined as a manner of being in the world experienced as a sense of bonding with, or being linked to, other group members. This bonding occurs both as emotional acts toward members of the group and cognitive acts toward group goals, norms, and ideas. Emotionally cohesion is experienced as feelings of caring, love, belonging, acceptance, closeness, and trust. Cognitively cohesion is experienced as an increased understanding of health problems and coping behaviors, assimilation of group norms, and examination of personal behaviors and problems.
With the information obtained from this study, several potentially useful findings may be extrapolated. A clearer understanding and a more complete description of group cohesion are noted. By extending the current knowledge about the essence of the concept, mental health professionals may develop interventions to facilitate group bonding and tools to measure the defining attributes.
The interrelationship statement generated from the results of this study begins to identify possible constructs within a theory of cohesion as well. This statement was formed as: The greater the intermembership similarity, sharing, and mutual identification, the more cohesive the group, and the more cohesive the group, the more a member's self-esteem, hope, coping, participation, goal-attainment, and healthy relationship-building will improve.