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THE EFFECTS OF PARTICIPATION IN THE “FRIDAY SEMINAR SERIES” ON PARENTING BEHAVIORS

Purpose

To determine the efficacy of a parent skills seminar curriculum presented to parents of children at Devereux Glenholme.  The goal of the seminar series is to teach parents the behavior modification techniques utilized by Glenholme staff in order to increase the consistency between home and school, thereby maximizing the transfer of treatment gains.

Methods

Participants
Participants were 34 sets of parents whose children are residential students at Devereux Glenholme.  All parents were invited to participate in the “Friday Seminar Series” and “Parent Day” events where seminars were offered.  All parents who attended the Friday Seminar Series were selected for inclusion into this study (N=14), as well as a sample of parents who did not participate (N=20).  Comparisons were also made between those parents who had attended a Parent Day training (N=20) and those who did not (N=14). Non-participating parents were selected based on the availability data.

Variables
Data was collected prior to the inception of the Friday Seminar Series, and again after the first 6 months of seminars were offered.  The data presented here reflects the clinician’s ratings of parents’ use of the following behaviors that are taught in the seminar series:

  1. Appropriate use of Parent Point Program
  2. Appropriate use of Ignoring
  3. Appropriate use of Positive Reinforcement
  4. Appropriate use of Predirection
  5. Appropriate use of the Time-out Technique
  6. Appropriate use of Reinforcement for No Time-outs

Ratings were conducted on a six point likert scale ranging from 0, indicating never to 5, indicating always.

Results

Data were analyzed using independent sample t-tests comparing the ratings of parents who had attended the Friday Seminar Series to those who had not on each of the six target behaviors.  Significant differences were found on all analyses.  Parents who attended the Friday Seminar Series were rated significantly higher on all behaviors than those who did not.  Specifically, attendees were found to use the Parent Point Program (t(32)=3.30, p<.01), Ignoring (t(33)=2.59, p=.01), Positive Reinforcement (t(33)=2.21, p<.05), Predirection (t(33)=2.93, p<.01), Time-out (t(33)=2.63, p=.01), and Reinforcement for no Time-out (t(33)=2.07, p<.05) techniques more frequently than non-attendees according to clinician’s ratings.  Please see graph below for a visual depiction.

Parents’ use of behavioral techniques

Discussion

Glenholme has placed an emphasis on parent education over the past three years.  The Friday Seminar Series is a training series which a behavioral training curriculum that is offered to parents on Friday afternoons before they pick up their child for a weekend visit.  The current study sought to investigate the effect that this training has had on the behavior of parents who attend.

The results indicate that the parent seminars may be having some of the intended effects.  Namely that parents who attend the Friday Seminar Series and Parent Days are more likely to utilize the behavioral techniques that are trained, as measured by the ratings of the clinicians involved with the case.  It is important to note that the current study has many potential threats to validity.  Most notably, the data involves ratings by observers who are not blind to the participants attendance (or lack thereof) in training opportunities.  Additionally, selection may pose a threat to validity, in that the parents who are the most likely to attend the training seminars may also be those who are more likely to utilize these behavioral techniques in the first place.  Despite these threats, the data is encouraging.

A useful application of this study to Devereux Glenholme is that it provides feedback that the parent seminars may be having the intended effect, and at the least, appear to be having no negative effect.  Further exploration is warranted to determine whether the training is having any effect on the child’s behavior, which is the variable in which we are most interested.