Cairns, Dianne (University of Liverpool (Chester College of Higher Education), 2002-11)
Recent reports detail the growing concern of mental health difficulties among children and adolescents (DfES 2001, NAfW Everybody's Business, 2001). Schools are considered an ideal location for the prevention, early identification and treatment of children's difficulties. Increasingly schools are using counsellors to help work with children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. However, there is limited information around the effectiveness of school-based interventions. The PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies), (Greenberg & Kusche, 1994) Curriculum is a comprehensive programme for promoting emotional and social competencies and reducing aggression and behaviour problems in primary school-aged children. Designed to be delivered by class teachers to primary school aged children, evaluations have demonstrated significant improvements in children's emotional and behavioural development on a variety of sites in America but to date, to the author's knowledge, there is no published research in the UK. This study examines the short-term effectiveness of the PATHS curriculum as perceived by the child's class teacher. The study is a pre and post intervention study comprising of 5 schools, 13 teachers and 313 children. The authors of PATHS advise delivery of the programme to be at least 2-3 times per week, throughout the child's primary school education. The majority of the teachers in this study were only able to deliver the programme once a week, and the intervention period was brief, (October 2001- July 2002). However, despite these limitations, the findings indicate improvements on teacher ratings of emotional awareness, behavioural difficulties, peer relationships and children's self esteem. The results are discussed in terms of the efficacy of the measures, the limitations of the study and the implications for teachers, counsellors and future research.
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