Academic journal article European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The

Positive Psychology in School-Based Psychological Intervention: A Study of the Evidence-Base

Academic journal article European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences, The

Positive Psychology in School-Based Psychological Intervention: A Study of the Evidence-Base

Article excerpt

1. Introduction: School-based (SB) psychological interventions have existed since the 1930's. During this time their psychological focus has changed in accordance with the current cons ensus of effective treatment. The emergence of evidence-based practice has over time shaped the choice and application of modality within schools. Current modalities being used are Family Systemic, Person-Centred, Humanistic and Psychoanalysis. In recent years there has been an increased drive to use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in line with the evidence base for it. The method by which this is applied varies in a number of ways: This may be in accordance with the structure of the intervention; the focus may be on whole classes, groups or individuals. It also varies according to its function that may be to treat or prevent mental health conditions. The process can also differ in clients; some applications may focus only on those who possess a diagnosis whilst others may focus on all children irrespective of diagnostic status, s ymptoms or risk factors. Las t, there are also differences in chosen intervention within the s ame modality framework. These discrepancies in current practice, accompanied by the evidence base, raise certain questions about the current use of modalities and also the fundamental deficit model on which they are based. The question at the heart of this study is whether the current context of SB interventions would show greater improvements in wellbeing for more children and adolescents using a relatively new framework whereby the focus would be on building strengths, rather than treating and preventing deficit. This review therefore provides an overview of the current mainstream methods and evidence base of SB interventions and looks at the evidence base for implementing Positive Psychology (PP) interventions as an alternative approach utilising a strengths model. A description of PP is provided emphasising the reasons for using such an approach with this client group. A discussion of the wider and clinical implications of introducing PP into s chools is als o pres ented along with a s ummary of the pres ented findings.

2. Context of School-Based Interventions: Within the last twenty years, the face of SB psychology has grown and developed markedly and the methods by which interventions are applied are vast and varying. However whether or not services have accommodated for change is debatable; within the last three decades there has been a struggle in the shift of focus within school psychology from the individual child to working with families, within learning, hospital and educational systems (Conoley, 1989, 1992/1997; Conoley & Gutkin 1995; Plas, 1986, as cited in: D'Amato, Zafiris, McConnell, & Dean, 2011, p. 9). The growth of mental health awareness means there has been a growing requirement to re-assess the needs of the client within their context and re-shape the approach that we adopt in working with them. Current methods often need to maintain a focus on individual therapy, but share an awareness of the child as part of wider systems. Conversely working upon such wider systems such as whole class interventions, including psycho-educational ones, also aid to support the individual and such programmes are currently being implemented in line with the evidence base of effective treatment.

CBT offers a manualised insight into treating according to symptomatology. Current treatments increasingly involve the use of CBT interventions to treat and prevent pathology in children and adolescents. Such frameworks are recommended from the World Health Organization's Global School Health Initiative (World Health Organization , 1998, as cited in: Spence & Shortt, 2007) where suggestions are informed by the evidence base of cognitive-behavioural models (Spence & Shortt, 2007). It is also suggested by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) that the school environment should be used to treat childhood conditions such as anxiety and depression (NICE, 2005, 2013). …

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