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Using assimilation to track changes in talk during a Living Well with Dementia (LivDem) group

Cheston, Richard; Dodd, Emily; Woodstoke., Natasha

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Background. Whilst good dementia care is typically thought of as a person-centred process, psychotherapy generally plays little role in this. One reason for this is that there are relatively few psychologists, therapists and counsellors working in dementia care. For this reason, we have developed a group based, 10-week intervention – the Living Well with Dementia (LivDem) group that is designed to delivered by non-psychologists.
Method. This paper presents results from two studies in which changes in how people talk about their dementia are tracked across LivDem groups using the assimilation model.
Results. There were important changes in how people living with dementia talked about themselves. In the initial sessions the main way in which people referred to dementia was indirectly (e.g., as “it” or “that thing that I have”) and they avoided naming it. By the end of the course, many participants were more able to openly acknowledge and to name their dementia and to talk about it in a more emotionally connected and thoughtful way. A comparison of two courses suggests that where course facilitators used active listening skills to encourage discussion then this may have promoted a greater openness amongst participants in the final session.
Discussion. Using the assimilation model to frame the process by which people adjust to their dementia provides both practical and conceptual benefits. Pragmatically, it underpins and enhances the use of psychotherapeutic interventions, including LivDem. Conceptually, it provides an alternative to the dominant representation of insight within dementia as a function of neurological impairment.


Cheston, R., Dodd, E., & Woodstoke., N. (2023, June). Using assimilation to track changes in talk during a Living Well with Dementia (LivDem) group. Presented at Society for Psychotherapy Research annual conference, Trinity College, Dublin

Presentation Conference Type Lecture
Conference Name Society for Psychotherapy Research annual conference
Conference Location Trinity College, Dublin
Start Date Jun 23, 2023
Deposit Date Jul 10, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jul 11, 2023
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