The perceptions of sub-clinically anxious children, their parents and teachers, of a targeted intervention based on the ‘FRIENDS for Life’ programme

Gavin, Adrian (2015) The perceptions of sub-clinically anxious children, their parents and teachers, of a targeted intervention based on the ‘FRIENDS for Life’ programme. EdD thesis, University of Lincoln.

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Abstract

A participatory action research and constructivist grounded theory-based intervention, by an educational psychologist, to determine helpful and unhelpful factors in targeted group intervention with three anxious primary school girls.

The aims of this research were to explore the perceptions of anxious, reticent children, their parents and teachers of a modified and targeted intervention, implemented by an educational psychologist (EP) and based on the FRIENDS for Life programme (FRIENDS)(Barrett, 2004). A case study approach was used to gather the data necessary to address the aims. The targeted intervention was delivered weekly by the EP using an integrated, study-specific, participatory action research (PAR) and constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2014) (CTG) approach for data analysis and theory development. Two settings within a primary school were strategically used by the EP to dilute any stigma associated with intervention for the three anxious target group (TG) girls aged between nine and eleven (N=3). The three girls were also participant during the same period in the universal application of the programme with the rest of their class peers (N=9).
The thesis takes as it starting point the fact that anxiety is thought to be one of the most common forms of psychological distress in children and young people (CYP) (Cartwright-Hatton et al., 2004) with prevalence being reported as high as twenty one per cent (Kashani and Orvaschel, 1990) and most studies estimating around ten per cent (Carr, 2006). Fortunately, the school-based programme FRIENDS for Life, (FRIENDS), based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) principles, appears to be efficacious both at a targeted and universal level with CYP. Little is known however about this programme’s application specifically with sub-clinically anxious CYP who are frequently apprehensive about verbal interaction at school and for whom mild to moderate anxiety is indicated. This study attempts to fill this gap. Modifications were made to the FRIENDS programme activities to allow for children’s non-verbal programme participation and to optimise the reticent target group children’s comfort within the group setting. The role of the EP in building therapeutic alliance with the anxious children was also explored.
Study findings suggest that the intervention was positively perceived by participants and that the children perceived story-writing to be their preferred way of working with FRIENDS programme content. The use of the seven principles, based on the acronym PRECISE, was deemed useful to the EP in building therapeutic relationship with the reticent children.
Findings underpin the study’s proposal for a conceptual model for EPs involved in group work with anxious children. The proposed ‘EPPPE’ model describes how EPs can use the PRECISE (P) principles in applying their skills in sensitive Programming (P) within a school community’s cognitive Ecological (E) context to support anxious children in targeted intervention.

Keywords:Reticent children, Anxiety
Subjects:X Education > X300 Academic studies in Education
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Education
ID Code:19883
Deposited On:22 Dec 2015 14:15

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