Monday, April 27, 2015

Parents as Partners: Evaluation of an Individualized Program that Offers Autism Collaboration, Education, and Support (ACES) for Parents, Educators, and Clinicians to Improve the Possibilities of Optimal Outcome for Children Diagnosed With Autistic Disorder

Shelley A. Stravitz, School of Educational Leadership for Change

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex, multisystem disorder that continues to affect greater percentages of children and their families worldwide and in the United States. Currently, no known cause or cure for ASD exists. Researchers emphasize genetic studies, while parents need intervention choices for their children with ASD. This study was an evaluation of the 21-year systems-based ACES Program of autism intervention from the stakeholder viewpoints of parents, professionals, and team members. Researchers maintain that parent-led interventions for ASD remain in their infancy. The ACES Program co-creates multidisciplinary, relationship-based parent-led intervention programs based on the child’s unique ASD profile and the needs of the family system to improve possibilities of optimal outcomes.

This mixed-methods evaluation study utilized surveys and telephone interviews of participants who worked with the ACES Program to develop an ACES Family Program team intervention for a minimum of 4 years. The individual viewpoints of the parents, professionals, and volunteer team members in each of the 9 cases demonstrated how the ACES Program was helpful in moving the represented children toward optimal outcomes. The participants informed this study by sharing their challenges, their suggestions to resolve challenges, and their recommendations for improving the ACES Program. They shared their experiences of the wider community regarding ASD that echoed the themes of social justice and structural inequality found through the historical search for ASD prevalence. The qualitative data analysis of the interviews supported the quantitative data analysis of the surveys.

Results indicate that, through the elements of the ACES Program, the parents became empowered leaders of their child’s individualized intervention. The parents, professionals, and volunteer team members agreed that the ACES Program elements that led the child and family toward optimal outcomes included attitudinal changes in the adults, understandable education, team support, team collaboration, and parent-professional partnerships. They offered suggestions for medical and educational professionals to improve practice. Recommendations for practice and ways in which the ACES program can further support children with ASD and their families are included. 

Key Words: Autism Spectrum Disorder, Optimal Outcomes, Parent-Led Individualized Interventions, Understandable Education, Family System Support


Mechtild Uhe, School of Psychology

This study is a primarily qualitative investigation of whether there is a relationship between theoretical orientation and learning from clients among a sample of North American psychologists, and what, if any, effects their learning has had on their personal and professional lives. The study uses the semi-structured interviews of a subsample of 31 psychologist-participants with an almost equal gender ratio in each group (15 male and 16 female psychologists) who report adhering to either a psychoanalytic/psychodynamic (PD) or cognitive-behavioral (CB) theoretical orientation in their clinical practices from an archived dataset (Hatcher et al., 2012). Research in the area of psychotherapist development has often been limited to studies of trainees and early career psychologists, whereby attention was placed on the efficacy and effectiveness of different therapeutic orientations. Little is known about the possible effects of theoretical approaches to practice on the personal and professional growth of psychologists themselves. Employing a qualitative analysis of psychologists’ narratives, the Hatcher et al. (2012) study explored what therapists learned and how they were affected by their clients. The purpose of the present study was to contribute to this relatively unexplored research area related to what psychologists learn from their clients and, in particular, whether and how theory orientation contributed to this learning. The results indicated a weak relationship between theoretical orientation and learning from clients. Some psychologists described learning from clients that involved attending more to topics and concepts aligned with the tenets of their respective orientations. In their anecdotes, CB therapists appeared to express a greater sense of active hands-on and concrete approaches to problem-solving, whereas PD therapists appeared to discuss intermingled, complex problems on a more abstract level. However, PD and CB psychologists expressed mostly similarities in their learning from clients, suggesting that common factors across theoretical approaches underlie what these psychologists learned from their clients.

Keywords: therapist development; learning from patients; psychodynamic and cognitive-behavioral theory; common factors in psychotherapy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Association of Religious Affiliation With The MMPI-A Alcohol/Drug Problem Acknowledgment Scale In Post-Soviet Russian Adolescents

Angela Buffington, School of Psychology

In the US, studies have found an association between religiosity and substance use. Studies of adolescents in the US have demonstrated an inverse relationship between religiosity and substance use, but no studies to date have examined this relationship in Russian adolescents. The current study used archival data to examine the association between age, gender, religious affiliation, and the MMPI-A Alcohol/Drug Problem Acknowledgement (ACK) scale in a post-Soviet Russian adolescent sample. The sample consisted of 201 participants, with valid data available for 115 participants (65 males and 50 females). Multiple regression analysis was used to test associations between the ACK scale of the MMPI-A with age, gender, and religious affiliation. Contrary to hypotheses, age and gender were not significantly related to acknowledgement of substance abuse in the sample. As hypothesized, religious affiliation inversely related to acknowledgement of substance abuse. Results suggest that being a member of a religious group may deter substance use in Russian youth. Current findings highlight religiosity as a potential protective factor in substance use prevention efforts.

Keywords: Adolescents, Substance Abuse, Religious Affiliation, MMPI-A, Russia

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Changing Workforce: A Critical Study of Multiple Generations Working Together

Mary Jane Woodward, School of Human and Organizational Development

This qualitative study examines the age-related complexities in workforce dynamics in the United States. The generational composition of the workforce is more diverse than ever before. The primary purpose of this study was to identify and evaluate multi-generational differences and similarities in values, attitudes and perceptions (in areas such as education, technology, social responsibility, employer commitment, and meaningful work) between Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and Millennials (born 1980-1999) in the workplace. These expected differences and similarities can affect the perceptions that workers have of one another and may influence performance and productivity in the contemporary workforce. A driving theme of the study was workplace wisdom, defined as an organizational process where workers achieve extraordinary results by combining their knowledge and experience with powerful thinking. An important motivation for the research was to explore how workplace wisdom might be facilitated and grow in multi-generational workplaces.

The focus group method explored how the generational perspective of workers, socialized at different periods in time, interconnects at work. In particular, the author used thematic analysis to assess the diverse characteristics of each generation and their views about working alongside workers of other generations. Six themes emerged from the study: work expectations and perspectives, work/life balance, communication gap, age-related stereotypes, older workers/younger supervisors, and workplace wisdom. Findings suggest that there are more similarities than differences between the two cohorts in basic work values and social responsibility, but different in day-to-day workplace interactions. Included among the recommendations offered for future research is for organizational leaders to respond appropriately to align Baby Boomers’ and Millennials’ communication and mentorship skills for corporate sustainability. In addition, findings suggest that as workers progress into further adult stages of development, that accumulation may result in workplace wisdom.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Epilepsy, Self-Management, and Separation-Individuation: Their Relationships

G. Channing Harris, School of Psychology

While research regarding the effects of other chronic illnesses on psychological (i.e., intrapsychic & psychosocial) development has been well established, less is known about the influence of epilepsy on the psychological development of young adults (aged 18 – 40) and how this affects epilepsy self-management. This study evaluated the relationships among epilepsy characteristics, parental overprotection, separation-individuation, psychopathology, peer attachment, and self-management in an international sample of young adult people with epilepsy (PWE). The project was approached drawing from both psychoanalytic and attachment perspectives. One-hundred eighty-five participants between the ages of 18 and 40 completed an online survey, which included a demographic and epilepsy variables survey, the Neurological Disorders Depression Inventory for Epilepsy, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale, the Epilepsy Self-Management Scale, the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment, the Separation-Individuation Process Inventory, and the Parental Bonding Instrument. A model, which states that parental overprotection in childhood influences the separation-individuation process and how well young adult PWE manage the illness as they mature into adulthood, was evaluated using structural equation modeling (SEM). Findings indicate that the model fit the data collected quite well. The results indicate that parental overprotection prior to age 16 exerted a direct effect on separation-individuation, which exerted a direct effect on poor self-management, psychopathology, and peer attachment. Separation-individuation also mediated the effects of parental overprotection on poor self-management, psychopathology, and peer attachment. These findings may prove useful for psychology and other disciplines hoping to improve psychosocial wellbeing and self-management in PWE. The results should be used to inform interventions designed to help young adult PWE work through separation-individuation issues and better manage their illness.

KEY WORDS: Epilepsy, Self-Management, Separation-Individuation, Intrapsychic Development, Psychosocial Development, Psychoanalytic Theory, Psychodynamic Theory, Attachment Theory, Parental Overprotection, Epilepsy Self-Management Scale, People with Epilepsy, Younger Adults

A Capacity to Serve and to Lead Across Cultures: Intercultural Leadership and the Experience of American Missionaries

David Sedlacek, School of Human and Organizational Development

In order to better understand what happens when leaders put themselves in a posture that allows them to be influenced by the people they lead, this qualitative study explores the experience of American evangelical Christian missionaries engaged in leadership among people of other cultures. A review of the leadership literature shows how this theme has been examined within several domains of leadership studies. The field of missiology offers additional perspectives to the process of leadership among people of diverse cultures.

The research employs a phenomenological approach to develop a deeper understanding of the nature of intercultural leadership. Eight evangelical Christian missionaries from the United States were interviewed using a protocol designed to identify critical incidents in their experiences in leading people of cultures different from their own. The core findings are written descriptions of key experiences of these leaders that focus upon ways they were influenced by those they lead.

The lived experience of the missionary leaders in this study informs prevalent leadership theories including transformative leadership, servant leadership, and cross-cultural leadership. This study demonstrates and expounds upon the value of relational transparency and cross- cultural servanthood for the intercultural leadership process.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Exploring Effective Peer Group Mentoring: A Qualitative Narrative Study of Executive-Level Professional Women

Jonathan R. Kroll, School of Human and Organizational Development

Exploring Effective Peer Group Mentoring: A Qualitative Narrative Study of Executive-Level Professional Women is an exploratory research inquiry designed to better understand the ways in which peer group mentoring might be constructed and facilitated for effective practice. Peer group mentoring, a constructivist approach to mentorship, is intentionally designed for inclusivity, the distribution of power, and the flattening of hierarchy. Within this mentoring construct, the group members create learning partnerships with their mentoring collaborators. Learning partnerships are such that (a) each individual validates the others as knowers, valued contributors, and valuable to the mentoring experience; (b) the mentoring experience is situated within the experiences of each participant; and (c) learning and meaning-making is mutually constructed.

In-depth interviews with 12 current peer group mentoring participants encouraged these individuals to share their stories-of-experience. Utilizing thematic analysis, four meta-themes emerged (mentoring participant characteristics, mentoring in practice, mentoring topics, and mentoring customs) from the recorded and transcribed interviews. These meta-themes contain a bevy of factors that facilitate effective peer group mentoring.