An Investigation to Determine if a Model Group Counseling Program Can Affect the A-Trait and A-State Anxiety of Children Who Are Under Stress
McCarthy, Molly Claire
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The problem. While growing up, children undergo developmental stress as well as situational stress such as being ill, having an ill or handicapped parent, having divorcing parents or even having a parent who might be dying. How they cope with the stress depends on many factors such as their coping mechanisms to date and how their parents cope. Because of the many stresses the parents have to deal with in their own lives during these times, it is possible their children's needs might go unmet. Intervention, such as counseling, could be helpful to these children. Counseling cancer patients and their families is an emerging field with limited research. The purpose of this study was to determine if a model group counseling program could reduce stress in individual children who have a parent with cancer. Procedure. This quasi-experimental research project used a single-subject ab design. The study was conducted over a nine-week period. In order to measure the effectiveness of the six-session counseling program, stress was operationally defined as A-State and A-Trait anxiety and was measured during the control and treatment periods by using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for Children and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Counseling objectives were to help the children recognize, express, and deal with their own and their parents' emotions constructively; develop communication skills for handling difficult situations; explore their own and others' values and assumptions about cancer and loss; and learn a relaxation technique they could incorporate into their daily life. Findings. Significant differences were found among the children on A-State and A-Trait anxiety scores. No significant differences were found among the A-State or A-Trait repeated measures. Thus, both null hypotheses were accepted. A-State anxiety was reduced significantly in the first counseling session. The other sessions also showed a trend of reducing A-State anxiety. There was evidence from the children's ratings of the counseling sessions that they were helpful. Conclusion. This research project was to ascertain if a model-group counseling program could alleviate children's anxiety. Significant education of A-State anxiety was found in one of six counseling sessions. Further research with a larger population would be to determine there is significance or only a trend in reduction.
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