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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Mari Irvin

First Committee Member

Hugh McBride

Second Committee Member

Judith Hoorn

Third Committee Member

LaVon Rupel

Fourth Committee Member

Timothy Derning


The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of using cognitive group therapy to treat depression in certain groups of elderly, cognitively capable individuals living in senior communities. The differences in effectiveness between males and females were also examined. The theoretical foundation for this study was based on lifespan development theory and Beck's cognitive therapy as a guideline to promote change. The study consisted of three treatment and two control groups with a total sample size of 26 women and 5 men from five senior residential communities in Sacramento, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties in California. Using the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) the study determined therapy effectiveness by comparing the group scores on the GDS prior to and after the twelve week treatment period. It was found that for this specific sample there was no statistical significance when comparing treatment effect between the treatment and control groups. The sample size of males and females was too small to determine if a treatment effect existed between the genders. Although no statistical significance was found, there appeared to be positive treatment outcomes resulting from participation in the study. For some individual members there was a decrease in the symptoms of depression. In addition, participants in this study were given the opportunity to decrease stress by sharing information, and receiving support and validation from group members; group members going through medical crises were given support and emotional validation; other members were given the opportunity to be useful and feel needed; and some participants, who had little social interaction with other residents in the facility, became less isolated because membership in the group allowed for the opportunity to meet new people, share their concerns, and feel less alone. Recommendations for future research include: (1) further study of the lifespan development issues among people over the age of sixty-five; (2) qualitative study using an interview process as a means of collecting information about the presence of the symptoms of depression among this population; (3) study to include as variables, economic diversity and diversity of age within the classification of elderly persons; and (4) study to determine the effectiveness of cognitive group therapy across genders in decreasing the symptoms of depression. The appendices include guidelines that may help facilitate research in the field of geriatrics.



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