This study examined the perceptions of adolescent girls with EBD during a 10-week Girls Circle support group. Perceptions of the girls’ friendships, their connectedness with others, their ability to establish and maintain relationships with others, and how they perceive themselves as they participate in Girls Circle, a gender-responsive support group model, were analyzed. Basic interpretive qualitative research was used to give voice to this understudied population (Merriam, 2002). The rationale for the framework of the study incorporated relational-cultural theory (RCT) and the idea that females develop a sense of self in connection with others (Miller, 1976).
The study design included three, semi-structured, individual interviews with the girls, participant observation of the Girls Circle, collection of field notes, and background data collected from the girls’ social workers. Each girl was confirmed as meeting the definition of having an emotional or behavioral disorder according to the Scale for Assessing Emotional Disturbance (Epstein & Cullinan, 1998). Interviews were transcribed verbatim, coded, and analyzed using ATLAS.ti software.
Emergent themes were found in the areas of friendship, connectedness to others, ability to establish and maintain relationships, and perception of self. Perceptions of friendship stressed trust, loyalty and honesty, the appreciation of acceptance and respect, and the need for sacrifice and dedication. Connectedness to others revealed the need to be there for someone, effort, openness and confidentiality, and time to establish relationships. Establishing and maintaining relationships revolved around commonality and understanding and problems such as jealousy and competition that often resulted in self-isolating behaviors. Perceptions of self exposed the experience of peer pressure, openness to leadership roles, and a strong identification with having a disability or mental health issue.
The examination of this topic through the lens of a gender-responsive model resulted in a more thorough understanding of these young women with EBD, and the insight gained highlights the future use of gender-responsive interventions in order to improve services for this population and encourages continued research specific to girls with EBD.
|Commitee:||Merves, Esther, Taymans, Juliana|
|School:||The George Washington University|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||DAI-A 72/06, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Special education, Gender studies|
|Keywords:||Adolescent, Adolescent girls, Behavior disorder, EBD, Emotional disturbance, Gender-responsive programming, Girls, Special education|
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