Community-clinical psychological consultation with teachers in an "African" lower primary school : discourses and future directions

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Following the action research tradition, a series of four workshops was conducted with 14 - 20 teachers at Songeze Lower Primary School in Guguletu. The workshops were in response to a preceding 'fact-finding' study as to the teachers' perceptions and attributions regarding common emotional and behavioural problems of pupils at their school. This pilot study arose from debate about the relevance of psychological practice in the South African context and in an attempt to identify feasible means of extending the services of the University of Cape Town's Child Guidance Clinic to "oppressed communities" in the Cape Peninsula. It was hypothesized that workshops would be a resource-efficient means of triadic, community - clinical consultation. This workshop series was negotiated with the teachers and comprised: 'Problem Identification and Assessment', 'Discipline', 'Listening Skills' and 'Referral Resources and Group Consultation'. During each workshop, didactic input was supported with hand-outs while large group discussion and problem solving was also stimulated. The last three workshops were quantitatively evaluated by the teachers and in a fifth meeting their qualitative feedback was elicited. An important variable in the above study involved its having been conducted by two researchers, one being "black" and the author being "white". Issues of language barriers, credibility, trust and differing perceptions and expectations between researchers and the participant teachers complicated the workshop process. The teachers' differential responses to the researchers, based on their 'colour', resulted in each experiencing and interpreting their role and relevance differently. It was found that the teachers' most pressing needs concern basic teaching skills and that clinical psychologists have a relatively minor contribution to make via simple, directive input along behaviour modification principles. Workshops were not found to be an optimal mode of intervention. It is suggested that inter-disciplinary team consultation, with clinical psychology interns playing a role in psychological and psychometric assessment and providing workshops on topics such as Discipline may be a more appropriate means of extending the Child Guidance Clinic's services to schools in the Guguletu community. A strong recommendation is made that the study of an "African" language be included in the Clinical Psychology training program. A further suggestion of exploring the need for, and feasibility of, interns conducting teacher support groups is also forwarded.

Biliography: leaves 76-79.