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Title: The stories young people with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) tell about their futures
Author: Tellis-James, Charlie
ISNI:       0000 0004 2749 4186
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2013
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A number of psychological perspectives have been offered to account for social, emotional, behavioural difficulties (SEBD) and the legislation and sociocultural context continues to depict a rather concerning trajectory for this group of young people. It appears that the views of children and young people with SEBD are discussed at length, but researched relatively little. Research that has sought their views has been predominantly retrospective in focus, with very little research encouraging them to look towards the future. In the small body of research that has asked young people with SEBD about the future, the psychological concept of ‘possible selves’ has been applied. The findings suggest that young people with SEBD lack agency, and are more pessimistic about their futures compared with their mainstream peers. The current research drew on positive psychology in order to extend the literature and offer a more useful and optimistic way of conceptualising SEBD. Positive psychology places emphasis on: the future, strengths, resources and potential, and suggests that negative experiences can build positive qualities. It is therefore in direct opposition to a pre-occupation with risk. This research also draws on a social constructivist epistemology, placing the voice of the young person with SEBD at its centre. It seeks to better understand their experiences and accepts that meanings are varied and multiple. This research employed a narrative methodology in an attempt to impose less structure, in order to seek the stories young people with SEBD tell about themselves in the future. Within the qualitative design, unstructured interviews were used in order to maximise the potential for capturing individual meaning. The Quality of Life (QoL) literature was drawn on to facilitate the young people’s narratives, and the life path tool was used to structure their thinking. Eight young people were interviewed, across the school and home contexts. Narrative Oriented Inquiry (NOI) was used to analyse the narratives; a sjuzet-fabula analysis was carried out to reconstruct the young people’s stories, followed by a categorical-content analysis to explore themes relevant to the current research. Finally, the tone of the young people’s narratives were analysed to explore how they presented themes of potential and growth in their stories. The findings indicate that when asked the right questions, young people with SEBD can identify a range of strengths and resources in their lives. Many of the young people also identified qualities that they had built as a result of earlier negative experiences. Overall, the young people’s narratives are progressive in tone and reveal their hopes and aspirations for the future. A number of implications for future research and practice are identified but ultimately, by offering these young people the opportunity to tell their stories, this research permitted them a sense of agency over their lives and allowed them to focus on where they were going, rather than where they had been.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Ed.Ch.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral