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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An exploration of experienced teachers' relationships with traumatized students
by Boucher, Margaret, Psy.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2012, 264; 3539664
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation explores the question: What can be learned from experienced teachers talking about their relationships with traumatized children? Teacher-student relationships are important for student success (Hamre & Pianta, 2001). Studies have looked at how child and teacher characteristics as well as contextual factors influence these relationships. Missing in the academic literature is research examining the impact students' trauma histories have on teacher-student relationships. The deleterious effects childhood trauma has on children's functioning is well documented (van der Kolk, 2005) and includes research on the impact trauma has on a students' ability to negotiate the school environment (Veltman & Browne, 2001) and peer relationships (Bolger & Patterson, 2001). This study adds to this body of research through its exploration of teachers' relationships with traumatized children.

Nine experienced public elementary school teachers were interviewed using a basic qualitative method (Merriam, 2009) as the basis for inquiry. Participants had seven or more years in the classroom and all had experience teaching traumatized children. Through in-depth interviews, this dissertation focused on what teachers' experiences are, how they think about their students and their relationships, and what aspects of psychological theory seem relevant to their work. Through the use of the comparative coding method (Merriam, 2009), analysis of the interviews yielded a number of themes common to participants. Findings include seven primary categories, each with their own set of subcategories. Primary categories include About the Child, Experiencing the Child, Understanding Traumatized Children, Thinking about Meeting Children's Needs, Parents, Influences outside the Relationship, and About the Teacher.

Interpretation of the findings combined with an examination of the academic literature relating to trauma and psychodynamic/psychoanalytic theory resulted in a set of concepts considered relevant to teachers working with traumatized students. Concepts include those relating to trauma's impact on the child, the dynamics between the teacher and student, and the impact of working with traumatized students on the teacher. The implications of this study's findings are significant as they describe teachers' experiences with traumatized students, reveal areas of inquiry for future research, and offer insight into ways of supporting teachers in their work with traumatized students.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Harlem, Andrew
Commitee: Bach, Lee
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 74/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational psychology, Teacher education, Developmental psychology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Child abuse, Child maltreatment, Childhood trauma, Teacher education, Teacher-student relationships, Teachers
Publication Number: 3539664
ISBN: 978-1-267-64102-1
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