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The following article will be used for a class activity on 6/14/06. Please bring this copy with you to class.

Courage for the Discouraged:

A Psychoeducational Approach to Troubled and Troubling Children

By Larry K. Brendtro and Steven Van Bockern

(Retyped by Leslie Mauerman for educational purposes only—unauthorized copy--do not duplicate)

The way one defines a problem will determine in substantial measure the strategies that can be used to solve it.  -- Nicholas Hobbs

In the three decades since the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders was formed, research about this population has exploded.  Professionals working with these challenging children have encountered a cacophony of competing theories and methodology.  Too often, proponents for purist viewpoints have been intolerant of other perspectives, berating alternative approaches as unscientific, dehumanizing, or obsolete.  Most practitioners, however, have been skeptical of narrow approaches that offer a panacea.  When facing a furious student, a single theory offers a slim shield indeed.  Now, as our field matures, we finally are moving away from simplistic “one-size-fits-all” mindsets.  The term psychoeducational has been used to describe approaches that blend multiple strategies of intervention.

Psychoeducational approaches planfully combine a variety of methods to meet the diverse needs of troubled children.  These eclectic models can create a synergy wherein the whole is greater than the parts, but only if the diverse theoretical components are synthesized carefully (Macmillian  & Kavale, 1986).  We will review existing psychoeducational approaches and present a new model grounded in practice, wisdom, and modern developmental theory.  At the outset, we must make a distinction between psychoeducation and unstructured eclecticism.

Pitfalls of Green Thumb Eclecticism

In an early study of services for emotionally handicapped children, Morse, Cutier, and Fink (1964) found that in many settings no organized philosophy of treatment could be detected.  Instead, staffs followed intuitive approaches that observers classified as naturalistic, primitive, or chaotic.  Most seemed to use a “green thumb” eclecticism, trying out various procedures without apparent consistency or depth.  Their style was neither organized nor proactive but, rather, consisted of spur-of-the-moment responses to individual academic or behavioral problems.

EDMS 512, Hood

Summer 2006

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