Kids' Skills research

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A support team's experience of a solution-focused intervention with children

A Master's Thesis in Councelling Psychology Submitted by Francine Marguerite Gohier, Bachelor of Occupational Therapy, to School of Arts and Sciences, City University, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, October 2006.

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Child development literature informs us that families supported by caring social networks are more resilient and better able to cope with challenges. The availability of these social networks has been at risk however with social and economic changes causing communities and neighbourhoods to be less cohesive and less available to families. Devising ways to create a broader circle of supporting friends could give families of children with behavioural challenges the advantages of a nurturing community, and help them gain better coping skills. Interventions that create collaborative social networks and sustain caregiver interest and motivation might duplicate, or certainly supplement, a helping community. It is believed that the Kids’ Skills approach developed by Dr. Ben Furman could provide such an experience to families.

A project to observe the community building benefits of the Kids’ Skills approach was put together in an educational setting on Vancouver Island, British Columbia (Canada). A team of helpers utilised the Kids’ Skills approach to support a child with behavioural challenges. As a pilot project for a Master’s thesis in counselling psychology, the eight-week intervention offered an opportunity to evaluate a particular aspect of the Kids' Skills approach, specifically the reported experience of caregivers in supporting a child using a more solution-focused and community-like approach.

The intervention was followed by an interview of the parent and caregivers, which captured their experience of working as a collaborative community. The participants were interviewed using Glasser’s (1998) Choice Theory model of psychological needs. This model was utilised as a frame work to evaluate the satisfaction of the caregivers in working with the Kids’ Skills approach and to inquire whether they would choose this approach again. Glasser suggests that in order to be satisfied with our work and life, we tend to behave in ways that meet our psychological needs for competence and freedom of choice, for belonging and connectedness, and for fun and enjoyment. The participants in this small study reported positively on these findings and asserted they enjoyed the experience of forming a community of helpers around the child; they also affirmed that they would also choose to use the Kids’ Skills approach again.

This research raises questions for further studies evaluating caregivers’ experiences of interventions that promote collaborative social networks.