Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Connectedness: A Review of the Literature with Implications for Counseling, Assessment, and Research

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Connectedness: A Review of the Literature with Implications for Counseling, Assessment, and Research

Article excerpt

Human beings have a powerful need for connectedness (Jordan, 1997; Lee & Robbins, 2000), or, as Baumeister and Leary (1995) have stated, "a fundamental human motivation" (p. 497) for regular, positive interactions within an ongoing relational connection. When individuals do not meet this need to be connected to each other and to maintain lasting social connections, there can be a negative impact on their health, adjustment, and well-being (Moen, 1998; Rude & Burham, 1995). Because humans are born with the need to be connected with others, individuals whose worldviews are shaped by a lack of meaningful connection to others tend to experience psychological distress (Buchholz & Catton, 1999). Some of the consequences to individuals that result from being disconnected from others may include social isolation, deficits in belongingness, and a lack of meaning or purpose in life (Baumeister & Leery, 1995). Disconnected individuals may see themselves as cut off from the social world despite the fact that they may have nonconflictual relationships with professional colleagues, personal friends, and family members. These individuals may report a lack of supportive relationships that can serve as effective buffers against the effects of stress. They may feel lost and alone, on both intrapersonal and interpersonal levels; that is, these individuals might experience a pervasive sense of disconnection from the internal self as well as from the external (social) world. A lack of connectedness has thus been described as a pervasive social problem (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Because of this, clarifying the conceptualization, definition, and measurement of connectedness in the counseling and psychological literature and highlighting important counseling strategies and clinical research questions related to connectedness have a great deal of merit.

To explore the construct of connectedness in a thorough manner, we conducted a literature review. The publications selected for this review's content pool met the following criteria: (a) published from 1984 through 2003, (b) written in English, and (c) included the key word connectedness. The initial computerized literature search of the PsycINFO database yielded a total of 581 publications that met all of these criteria. From that list, 288 publications featured original empirical research studies that were quantitative in nature. In the preliminary review process, a variety of publications were selected that ranged from those that reported on the psychometric development of measures of connectedness to theoretically oriented articles that discussed the construct. In addition to the articles chosen from the PsycINFO database, we also identified articles and books from our personal files and from bibliography reviews. Finally, the abstracts of all the publications selected were scanned, and, ultimately, a total of 85 contemporary publications were selected for this review: 6 dissertations, 9 books, 7 chapter articles, and 63 journal articles. These publications were included in this review because of their relevance to the historic intervention and prevention mission of counseling and counseling psychology (Brabeck, Welsh, Kenny, & Comilang, 1997).

In this article, the construct of connectedness is described as it appears in the literature, particularly with respect to gender and cultural issues. This review also suggests a conceptualization of connectedness that may provide a framework for increasing the efficacy of counseling assessment and interventions for those who experience a problem with being disconnected from others. This review concludes with recommendations for counseling interventions and research germane to this construct.

The Construct of Connectedness

In recent years, researchers of human development and psychology have helped to debunk the myth that the goal of human development hinges on individual independence and self-sufficiency. …

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