Examination of the effectiveness and group processes of a psychoeducational program aiming at promoting positive coping of adverse situations and optimism in elementary school students (Doctoral thesis)

Μπαούρδα, Βασιλική Χ.

Positive Psychology is a branch of Psychology that focuses on the positive characteristics of human life and studies concepts such as well-being (life satisfaction or the process of self-actualization), optimism (trust that good things will happen to one’s life), and hope (the belief that a person can find strategies to achieve his goals and his motivation to use them). The above characteristics are related to improved physical and mental health, and better social functioning in children. Additionally, coping strategies (responses aimed at preventing or reducing a perceived threat, harm or loss) are associated with optimism and hope and have an impact on the psychological and social functioning of children. No research so far has focused on simultaneously enhancing optimism, hope and coping strategies in children. In addition, during group interventions, specific group processes emerge, such as therapeutic alliance, group climate, and therapeutic factors, that have an impact on the effectiveness of interventions. No study involving a Positive Psychology group intervention for children has studied group processes. The present study aims to evaluate an eight-session psychoeducational group intervention that focuses on enhancing optimism, hope, and adaptive coping strategies in children aged 8-12 years. At the same time, the study investigates the group processes that take place during the intervention and how they affect its effectiveness. The sample included 361 students (229 in the intervention group and 132 in the control group), 8-12 years old (M = 9.91 ± 1.26). The intervention included activities to recognize the connection of emotions to thoughts and behaviors, cognitive reconstruction, learning and practicing coping strategies and enhancing hopeful thinking. In order to assess the effectiveness of the intervention, students before and after the intervention responded to a series of questionnaires which measure: (1) optimism (Youth Life Orientation Test, Ey et al., 2005), (2) hope (Children’s Hope Scale, Snyder, Hoza, et al., 1997), (3) coping strategies (Schoolagers’ Coping Strategies Inventory, Ryan-Wenger, 1990), (4) self-esteem (Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Rosenberg, 1965), (5) social skills (Children's Self-Report Social Skills Scale, Danielson & Phelps, 2003), and (6) anxiety (Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale-Revised, Reynolds & Richmond, 1978). Moreover, to investigate group processes, the students responded during the program to a series of questionnaires which measure: (1) therapeutic factors (Critical Incidents Questionnaire, Bloch et al., 1979), (2) therapeutic alliance (Psychoeducational Group Alliance Scale for Children, Brouzos et al., 2018), (3) group climate (Group Climate Questionnaire – Short, MacKenzie, 1983), and (4) leader’s facilitative attitudes (Barrett-Lennard Relationship Inventory, Barrett-Lennard, 2015). The students who participated in the psychoeducational program reported statistically significant increases, compared to the control group, in optimism, hope and self-esteem, the use of specific coping strategies (coping through activities, avoidance and problem solving) and perceived likeability, while at the same time a significant decrease was found on pessimism and physical manifestations of anxiety. The group processes studied included the therapeutic factors, therapeutic alliance, group climate and perception of the leader’s facilitating attitudes. Specific therapeutic factors emerged during the intervention and their importance varied according to the stage of group development. From the first sessions, students formed a good therapeutic alliance and a positive perception of the leader’s facilitating attitudes, which remained relatively stable during the intervention. The group climate was generally positive throughout the intervention without significant changes. An important finding of the study was that some group processes were involved in the intervention’s effectiveness. In particular, therapeutic alliance was related to the change in coping strategies. The perception of the leader’s facilitating attitudes affected the change in optimism, coping strategies and anxiety. Finally, group climate was related to changes in hope, coping strategies and social skills. In conclusion, the current study suggests that a universal, group psychoeducational intervention for children enhances their coping strategies, optimism and hope. In addition, it suggests that group processes affect the effectiveness of the intervention, a finding that has practical implications for group facilitators.
Institution and School/Department of submitter: Πανεπιστήμιο Ιωαννίνων. Σχολή Επιστημών Αγωγής. Παιδαγωγικό Τμήμα Δημοτικής Εκπαίδευσης
Subject classification: Θετική ψυχολογία
Keywords: Θετική ψυχολογία,Αισιοδοξία,Ελπίδα,Στρατηγικές αντιµετώπισης,Ψυχοεκπαίδευση,Οµαδικές διαδικασίες,Positive psychology,Optimism,Hope,Coping strategies,Psychoeducation,Group processes
URI: https://olympias.lib.uoi.gr/jspui/handle/123456789/29232
Appears in Collections:Διδακτορικές Διατριβές

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