Academic journal article Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

Cohesion and Trauma: An Examination of a Collegiate Women's Volleyball Team

Academic journal article Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

Cohesion and Trauma: An Examination of a Collegiate Women's Volleyball Team

Article excerpt

This study examined the effects o/Adventure Based Counseling (i.e., a low-element challenge program) on the cohesion of a collegiate women's volleyball team. Results suggest post-intervention improvements in team cohesion. The support created in the challenge experience also transferred to the players helping one another to grieve the untimely loss o/ a teammate.


A sport team is a special type of group that shares a collective identity, a sense of shared purpose, structured patterns of interaction and communication, personal and task interdependence, and interpersonal attraction (Carron, 1988). Individuals who participate in sport range from children and adults who play in neighborhood leagues for recreation, socialization, and exercise to professional athletes who sign multimillion-dollar contracts. For athletes who participate in sport at the college level, high-stakes competition can result in the need to consistently achieve peak performance. Over the years, many sport experts and scientists have attempted to identify the qualities and characteristics that will assist athletes and teams to consistently perform at an optimal level.

Sport teams are traditionally classified as being either interactive or coactive (Widmeyer & Williams, 1991). It is necessary for members of interactive teams (e.g., volleyball, ice and field hockey, football, soccer, basketball) to coordinate their efforts, but such coordination is not necessary for members of coactive teams (e.g., golf, singles tennis, diving, bowling), who participate simultaneously but independently on the same task.


Cohesion can be defined as the sum of forces acting on group members that maintains their participation in the group, such as cooperation, helping each other, mutual psychological support, interpersonal attraction, commitment to the task, and group pride (Mullen & Cooper, 1994). Similarly, cohesion in sports is defined as the tendency for a group to stick together and remain united in the pursuit of its goals and objectives (Carron, 1982), and it is vital for successful team functioning and success (Cartwright, 1968; Hall, 1985; Meyers, 1962; Murray, 1981). Furthermore, cohesion has been divided into two types, task cohesion and social cohesion. Task cohesion can be defined as a general orientation toward achieving the group's goals and objectives. Social cohesion is the social aspect that can be seen as a general orientation toward developing and maintaining social relationships within the group (Carron, Widmeyer, & Brawley, 1985).

Mullen and Cooper (1994) conducted a meta-analysis, which showed that the effect of cohesion on performance is an important contributor to effective group performance and due primarily to commitment to the task rather than interpersonal attraction or group pride. Recently, researchers have also shown that a positive relationship exists between team cohesion and team performance (Wellington & Faria, 1996) and team cohesion and individual satisfaction (Carron & Chelladurai, 1982). Being a member of a cohesive team has been identified as a factor related to whether or not Olympic athletes performed to meet, to exceed, or fail to meet expectations (Gould, Guinan, Greenleaf, Medberry, & Peterson, 1999).

It has been suggested that there is a positive relationship between psychological advantages to participants and being a member of a highly cohesive team (Carron, Prapavessis, & Grove, 1994). Cohesion has been positively linked with psychological momentum (Eisler & Spink, 1998); exercise adherence in the sport setting, such as a spinning class (Spink, 1995; Spink & Carron, 1992); and decreased competitive state anxiety (Prapavessis & Carron, 1996). Also, an investigation examining the relationship of group cohesion to mood disturbance, stress, and athletic performance in a female collegiate basketball team indicated that participants perceiving high levels of task cohesion were found to be less depressed, less confused, and to demonstrate less total mood disturbance. …

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