Narrative therapy with youth at a juvenile boot-camp facility: a single case research design
Ikonomopoulos, James Peter
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The purpose of the study was to bring forth the stories from youth cadets in a juvenile justice boot-camp facility, to gain an understanding of the psychological symptoms that youth experience, as well as, to examine the effectiveness of a narrative therapy counseling intervention for reducing clinically relevant psychological symptoms manifested by youth at a juvenile boot-camp facility. The principal investigator conducted this study with a sample of youth cadets (N = 8) currently enrolled in a juvenile boot-camp facility. Youth chosen to participate in this study were between the ages of 15 to 17. The population for this research was obtained through convenience sampling, and was selected by staff from a South Texas boot-camp facility, based on the level of clinically relevant psychological symptoms in youth cadets. Analysis of participants' scores on the Brief Symptom Inventory (Derogatis, 1993), using the percentage of data exceeding the median statistical procedure (Ma, 2006) yielded treatment effects indicating that a narrative therapy intervention may be effective for improving youth functioning and reducing mental health symptoms. Treatment effects ranging from moderate to large were noted for scores on Interpersonal-Sensitivity, Depression, Obsessive-Compulsion, and Psychoticism measures of the Brief Symptom Inventory (Derogatis, 1993) for a majority of participating youth cadets. Using a narrative therapy treatment approach to assist youth on improving clinically relevant psychological symptoms and adjustment problems is a strategy that should be considered by counselors in juvenile justice settings, clinical settings, and by counselors in education programs. Because counselor education programs and mental health treatment settings are furthering their research activity and counselor supervision, narrative therapy provides a useful and effective means to enhance youth functioning and improvement in coping skills to manage clinically relevant psychological symptoms. It is recommended that this body of research be continued for other educational, work, and health settings. Counselor educators, supervisors, and educational leaders are in a position to promote narrative approaches, which has shown to further youth social and mental health development, however further use and exploration on the effectiveness of narrative therapy is needed.