Examining the impact of theraplay interventions within education settings on classroom behaviour and student-teacher relationships for male students aged three to eleven-years-old identified with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) difficulties: a multiple case study design

Bennion, Kim (2020) Examining the impact of theraplay interventions within education settings on classroom behaviour and student-teacher relationships for male students aged three to eleven-years-old identified with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) difficulties: a multiple case study design. DAppEdPsy thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

Negative risk factors relating to Social Emotional Mental Health can include educational and later-life difficulties (Tellis-James & Fox, 2017). This suggests more should be done to support young people who are at risk or showing signs of social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2018) and education settings are one environment that can offer this support (Cefai & Cooper, 2009).

Theraplay is a play-based intervention which has traditionally been used with children and their caregivers, and has been expanded for use within education settings (Tucker, Schieffer, Wills, Hull, & Murphy, 2017). However, a systematic literature review highlights that the evidence-base for Theraplay in education settings is limited. The purpose of this study is, therefore, to explore how Theraplay interventions are implemented within education settings and their effects on behaviour and student-teacher relationships for children identified with SEMH needs.

A pragmatic mixed method multiple-case embedded design was used. The ‘cases’ were two separate educational settings implementing two different Theraplay interventions. Case Study One (CS1) was a specialist school that was implementing a whole-class Group Theraplay intervention called ‘Sunshine Circles’ and Case Study Two (CS2) was a nursery implementing a Group Theraplay intervention to a select number of children. In total there were seven participants, three children from CS1 and four children in CS2.

Within each case study, a Single Case Experimental Design (AB design) was used to monitor the impact of the intervention on the children’s behaviour using repeated observational methods. The data was triangulated with pre- and post-questionnaires; the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ, Goodman, 1997) and Student Teacher Relationship Questionnaire (STRS, Pianta, 2001) and post-intervention interviews with Theraplay Facilitators and education staff.



The findings demonstrated two different approaches to implementing Theraplay interventions, including factors identified as being important to the implementation of the intervention and factors that were reported as challenges and barriers.

With regards to the impact on children’s behaviour in CS1, visual and Tau-U analysis found an increase in observed incidents of the target behaviour ‘cooperative play’ for two children in the intervention phase. There were no other changes observed for the other target behaviours. T-SDQ data showed limited changes in pre- and post-scores. For CS2, no changes were observed in the SCED data, however there was a reliable change in at least one SDQ category for each of the four children. Theraplay Facilitators reported positive changes in behaviour within the group, and two of the four children’s Key Workers reported positive changes observed outside of the group.



In relation to student-teacher relationships, for CS1 both quantitative and qualitative data showed little change in this area. In CS2, there were reported improvements from the Key Workers and changes observed in the STRS results, however the influence of external factors such as the intervention being embedded within the nursery, suggest that it cannot be concluded that any changes observed were due to the Group Theraplay alone.

The findings are considered in relation to the methodological issues which arose during the research. By highlighting the strengths and limitations of the methodology employed, areas for future research have been noted.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (DAppEdPsy)
Supervisors: Atkinson, Sarah
Gulliford, Anthea
Keywords: Play assessment (Child psychology); Schoolboys, Mental health; Teacher-student relationships; Behavior modification
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 60073
Depositing User: Bennion, Kimberley
Date Deposited: 20 May 2021 07:45
Last Modified: 20 May 2021 08:00
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/60073

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