The effectiveness of a Group Theraplay and Sunshine Circles intervention on reducing behavioural difficulties resulting from early Complex Trauma (2020)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree NameMaster of Science
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsLenton, Paige Louiseshow all
Complex Trauma (CT) has been shown to have significant effects on an individual’s physical and emotional well-being, with these effects being particularly evident if the trauma exposure occurred during early development. Research on CT and its related effects have increased in popularity over the last few years with researchers, practitioners and diagnostic manuals having difficulty differentiating between the various definitions of trauma. Despite this uncertainty, the majority of research agrees that interventions should use a trauma informed approach which uses recommendations from attachment theory, neuroscience and developmental science. Group Theraplay (GT) and Sunshine Circles (SC) are two examples of interventions which use these approaches. This study investigates whether GT and SC are effective in reducing negative behaviours, as measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), in a small sample of children who have experienced CT. Six children aged between 8 and13 years participated in up to 10 GT sessions over two weeks with four of these children also receiving at least two SC sessions in addition to GT. The findings of this study indicated that all children showed an improvement in at least one domain measured by the SDQ but only one child with post-intervention data showed an improvement in their total difficulties scores. Similarly, the Assessment of Child Progress (ACP) measure indicated a reduction in negative behaviours for three of the six children from the initial session to the final session of GT. When comparisons were made between children who received GT and SC and GT only, receiving a combination of both SC and GT had a greater positive effect on children’s behaviours. This study provides some support for an alternative evidence-based intervention that can be accessed by many clinical and non- clinical organisations at low risk and cost to reduce behavioural problems in children with CT. The feasibility of using GT and SC within New Zealand has been evaluated and shows potential for promising results when minor alterations, based on the limitations of this study are made.