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A study of the inner world of children with emotional and behavioural difficulties

Milburn, Hugh; (1997) A study of the inner world of children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Doctoral thesis (D.Clin.Psy), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This study investigated associations between children with emotional/behaviour difficulties (EBD) and children without reported problems in their representations of parents and measures of their socio-emotional adaptation. Fifty-nine children were interviewed using the MacArthur Story-Stem Battery (MSSB) to obtain their narrative representations of parents. Data reduction of the content and parent themes of the play narratives generated composites of negative, disciplinary, and pro-social parenting. To measure behaviour problems, teachers completed the Teacher's Report Form. Results showed significant differences in the play narratives of EBD children compared to controls. The EBD children's play narratives were characterized by negative parenting (harsh/aggressive and disorganized) and poor narrative coherence. In contrast the control group presented parents as disciplinary (limit-setting), and presented coherent narratives. It was also found that the negative parenting theme was correlated to, and predictive of, children's externalized behaviour problems, and contributed to discriminating EBD and non-EBD status. The discussion addresses the extent to which the EBD children's responses to the MSSB are suggestive of disorganized representational processes, which is thought to be related to disorganized attachment classification. Finally, the contribution of the MSSB play narrative technique as an assessment and treatment tool is discussed. This study adds an important dimension to research on parent-child relationships in children presenting with emotional and behavioural difficulties, that is the child's perception on these relationships.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: D.Clin.Psy
Title: A study of the inner world of children with emotional and behavioural difficulties
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology; Children; Emotional/behaviour difficulties; Inner world
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099192
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