The Efficacy of Counseling Services in Decreasing Behavior Problems of Elementary School Children

Cobb, Harriet Clare, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Van Hoose, William H., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Pate, Robert, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Richards, Herbert, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Sheras, Peter, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

The primary objective of this study was to investigate the efficacy of counseling services in reducing the behavior problems of children. A secondary purpose ·was to measure the impact of the intervention on the self-concepts of the children in the study.

Subjects were selected from Grades 4 and 5 in a rural Virginia school system, and placed into two groups. Each subject was rated by his/her teacher and by an independent observer on 35 items selected from the Behavior Problem Checklist (Peterson, 1961; Quay, 1964). Each subject was also administered the Piers-Harris Children's Self Concept Scale.

One fourth and one fifth grade class received the treatment for the first eight weeks, while the second group served as the control. Treatment consisted of counselor-led guidance sessions, teacher-led guidance sessions, teacher consultation, and for a selected subgroup - small group counseling sessions. The targeted group of children were selected by the teacher and the counselor primarily on the basis of their exhibiting a high number of behavior problems. After the Post1 testing, the second group received the same treatment for eight weeks. During this period, the counselor did not provide services to the first group, But the teachers continued to lead guidance sessions and reinforce gains made after the treatment. After this treatment period, Post2 testing was conducted.

Results from the analyses of covariance revealed significant differences (p < • 01) on all three factors on the Behavior Problem Checklist for the Total Sample and for the Target Groups after Post1 testing. Significance on Factor II vas found after Post2 testing for the Total Sample and the Target Groups. A significant difference was found for Factor III for the Total Sample only, after Post2 testing. All differences were in the predicted direction. Although no statistically significant differences were indicated for Factor I on Post2 testing for the Total Sample and the Target Group, or Factor III on Post2 testing for the Target Group, a positive trend was noted in all cases. The positive behavioral changes in the first group. persisted two months after the treatment period.

Analyses of covariance did not reveal significant gains in self-concept for the Total Sample or Target Groups following the treatment. However, all groups had a mean score on the Piers-Harris Children' s Self Concept Scale within the average range before the treatment began. Tile mean self-concept scores of the children were within the average range after both Post1 and Post2 testing.

The following conclusions were made on the basis of this study:

1. The counselor-consultation model is effective in reducing behavior problems of children. Specifically, a combination of group guidance, sma11 group counseling using Silverman's (1970) "achievement motivation" group as a structure, and teacher involvement is effective.

2. The involvement of teachers in an elementary counseling program at all levels should be emphasized in the standards for practice currently being developed at the state level.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
Counseling -- Virginia, Behavior modification
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