What works: exploring the impact of a modified, universal, emotional regulation module for transition year students in an Irish post-primary school
Carey, Charlotte Anne
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Aims: The aim of this research was to explore the impact of a modified, emotional regulation module for a universal group of adolescents (Mean Age=15.49), in an Irish post-primary school. The study sought to examine ‘what works’ for cognitive and dialectical behavioural, therapeutic interventions in this setting. The emotional regulation module of the ‘DBT Skills in School: Skills Training for Emotional Problem Solving for Adolescents (DBT-Steps A)’programme was modified based on previous research on the programme and existing educational and developmental literature. The modifications included delivery by a Trainee Educational Psychologist, increased time, multimedia support and active and co-operative learning approaches. The research sought to answer two broad questions: 1) What is the effect of a modified emotional regulation module on reports of student emotional regulation? 2) How do students and facilitators perceive the experience of taking part in the intervention? Method: This study was underpinned by pragmatic theory and adopted a mixed methods approach with the collection of both qualitative and quantitative data. The intervention was delivered by a Trainee Educational Psychologist to an intervention (n=12) and delayed intervention group (n=11). Quantitative data was collected using the Difficulties with Emotional Regulation Scale-Short Form from students and parents at three time points (Baseline, Time 1 and Time 2). Qualitative data was collected through field notes and semi-structured interviews with a sub-sample of participants (n=7) and the co-facilitating teacher. Results: Quantitative data suggested a significant within-group reduction in self-reported difficulties with emotional regulation for the intervention group, however, between groups outcomes were non-significant. Parent reports showed a significant decline in difficulties with emotional regulation, although return of questionnaires was low. Qualitative findings identified several positive aspects of the intervention, including practical resources, a small group format and active and co-operative learning approaches. Areas for improvement and barriers to implementation were also identified. Furthermore, the relevance of the intervention to this age group was outlined. Conclusions: Outcomes from the quantitative measure suggested both the emotional regulation intervention group and regular school provision group displayed a reduction in self-reported difficulties with emotional regulation. Improvements were greater for the intervention group, although overall differences between the groups was statistically non-significant. Qualitative data suggests that preventative, universal interventions, with a dialectical behavioural approach can be beneficial. This research provides further information regarding the development, feasibility and implementation of universal, school-based, therapeutic interventions by Educational Psychologists in the post-primary school setting. It appears that the use of active and co-operative learning approaches can enhance participant experience and engagement with the programme, leading to increased understanding of emotions and ability to regulate emotions. The relevance of such interventions to this age group is certain and generalisation of skills to other environments is evident. Such intervention could be run in schools, with positive effects, but may need some element of adaptation and increased system wide support.
Dialectical behavior therapy