You are on page 1of 396

ADOLESCENT PEER COUNSELLING

Kathryn Geldard
Thesis submitted in
fulfilment of the requirements
for the award of the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy.
July 2005

School of Learning and Professional Studies


Faculty of Education
Queensland University of Technology

ii

iii

KEYWORDS
Adolescents, Communication, Conversation, Coping, Coping resources, Coping
strategies, Counselling microskills, Counsellor training, Developmental stage
differences,

Emotional

Intervention research,

competence,

Help

Peer counselling,

seeking,

Helping

conversations,

Peer counsellor training, Prosocial

behaviour, Resilience, Role attribution, School climate, Self-concept, Skill


implementation, Social support, Status differences, Stress.

iv

ABSTRACT
Adolescent peer counselling as a social support strategy to assist adolescents
to cope with stress in their peer group provides the focus for the present thesis. The
prosocial behaviour of providing emotional and psychological support through the use
of helping conversations by young people is examined. Current programs for training
adolescent peer counsellors have failed to discover what skills adolescents bring to the
helping conversation. They ignore, actively discourage, and censor, some typical
adolescent conversational helping behaviours and idiosyncratic communication
processes. Current programs for training adolescent peer counsellors rely on teaching
microcounselling skills from adult counselling models. When using this approach, the
adolescent peer helper training literature reports skill implementation, role attribution
and status differences as being problematic for trained adolescent peer counsellors
(Carr, 1984; de Rosenroll, 1988; Morey & Miller, 1993). For example Carr (1984)
recognised that once core counselling skills have been reasonably mastered that young
people may feel awkward, mechanical or phoney (p. 11) when trying to implement
the new skills. Problematic issues with regard to role attribution and status differences
appear to relate to the term peer counsellor and its professional expectations,
including training and duties (Anderson, 1976; Jacobs, Masson & Vass, 1976;
Myrick, 1976). A particular concern of Peavy (1977) was that for too many people
counselling was an acceptable label for advice giving and that the role of counsellor
could imply professional status. De Rosenroll (1988) cautioned against creating
miniature mirror images of counselling and therapeutic professionals in young people.
However, he described a process whereby status difference is implied when a group
of adolescent peer counsellors is trained and invited to participate in activities that

v
require appropriate ethical guidelines including competencies, training, confidentiality
and supervision. While Carr and Saunders (1981) suggest, student resentment of the
peer counsellor is not a problem they go on to say, this is not to say that the problem
does not exist (p. 21). The authors suggest that as a concern the problem can be
minimised by making sure the peer counsellors are not forced on the student body
and by providing opportunities for peer counsellors to develop ways of managing
resentment. De Rosenroll (1988) acknowledges that the adolescent peer counsellor
relationship may fall within a paraprofessional framework in that a difference in status
may be inferred from the differing life experiences of the peer counsellor when
compared with their student peers.
The current project aimed to discover whether the issues of skill
implementation, role attribution and status differences could be addressed so that
adolescent peer counselling, a valuable social support resource, could be made more
attractive to, and useful for adolescents.
The researchers goal was to discover what young people typically do when
they help each other conversationally, what they want to learn that would enhance
their conversational helping behaviour, and how they experience and respond to their
role as peer counsellor, and then to use the information obtained in the development
of an adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program.

By doing this, the

expectation was that the problematic issues cited in the literature could be addressed.
Guided by an ethnographic framework the project also examined the influence of an
adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program on the non-peer counsellor
students in the wider adolescent community of the high school.
Three sequential studies were undertaken. In Study 1, the typical adolescent
conversational and communications skills that young people use when helping each

vi
other were identified. In addition, those microcounselling skills that young people
found useful and compatible with their typical communication processes were
identified. In Study 2, an intervention research process was used to develop, deliver,
and evaluate an adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program which combined
typical adolescent helping behaviours with preferred counselling microskills selected
by participants in Study 1. The intervention research paradigm was selected as the
most appropriate methodology for this study because it is designed to provide an
integrated perspective for understanding, developing, and examining the feasibility
and effectiveness of innovative human services interventions (Bailey-Dempsey &
Reid, 1996; Rothman & Thomas, 1994). Intervention research is typically conducted
in a field setting in which researchers and practitioners work together to design and
assess interventions. When applying intervention research methodology researchers
and practitioners begin by selecting the problem they want to remedy, reviewing the
literature, identifying criteria for appropriate and effective intervention, integrating the
information into plans for the intervention and then testing the intervention to reveal
the interventions strengths and flaws. Researchers then suggest modifications to
make the intervention more effective, and satisfying for participants. In the final stage
of intervention research, researchers disseminate information about the intervention
and make available manuals and other training materials developed along the way
(Comer, Meier, & Galinsky, 2004). In Study 2 an adolescent-friendly peer counsellor
training manual was developed. Study 3 evaluated the impact of the peer counsellor
training longitudinally on the wider school community. In particular, the project was
interested in whether exposure to trained peer counsellors influenced students who
were not peer counsellors with regard to their perceptions of self-concept, the degree
of use of specific coping strategies and on their perceptions of the school climate.

vii
Study three included the development of A School Climate Survey which focused on
the psychosocial aspects of school climate from the students perspective. Two factors
which were significantly correlated (p<.01) were identified. Factor 1 measured
students perceptions of student relationships, and Factor 2 measured students
perceptions of teachers relationships with students.
The present project provides confirmation of a number of findings that other
studies

have

identified

regarding

the

idiosyncratic

nature

of

adolescent

communication, and the conversational and relational behaviours of young people


(Chan, 2001; Noller, Feeney, & Peterson, 2001; Papini & Farmer, 1990; Rafaelli &
Duckett, 1989; Readdick & Mullis, 1997; Rotenberg, 1995; Turkstra, 2001; Worcel et
al., 1999; Young et al., 1999). It extends this research by identifying the specific
conversational characteristics that young people use in helping conversations.
The project confirmed the researchers expectation that some counselling
microskills currently used in training adolescent peer counsellors are not easy to use
by adolescents and are considered by adolescents to be unhelpful. It also confirmed
that some typical adolescent conversational helping behaviours which have been
proscribed for use in other adolescent peer counsellor training programs are useful in
adolescent peer counselling. The project conclusively demonstrated that the
adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program developed in the project
overcame the difficulties of skill implementation identified in the adolescent peer
counselling literature (Carr, 1984). The project identified for the first time the process
used by adolescent peer counsellors to deal with issues related to role attribution and
status difference.
The current project contributes new information to the peer counselling
literature through the discovery of important differences between early adolescent and

viii
late adolescent peer counsellors with regard to acquiring and mastering counselling
skills, and their response to role attribution and status difference issues among their
peers following counsellor training. As a result of the substantive findings the current
project makes a significant contribution to social support theory and prosocial theory
and to the adolescent peer counselling literature. It extends the range of prosocial
behaviours addressed in published research by specifically examining the
conversational helping behaviour of adolescents from a relational perspective. The
current project provides new information that contributes to knowledge of social
support in the form of conversational behaviour among adolescents identifying the
interactive, collaborative, reciprocal and idiosyncratic nature of helping conversations
in adolescents. Tindall (1989) suggests that peer counsellor trainers explore a variety
of ways to approach a single training model that can augment and supplement the
training process to meet specific group needs. The current project responded to this
suggestion by investigating which counselling skills and behaviours adolescent peer
counsellor trainees preferred, were easy to use by them, and were familiar to them,
and then by using an intervention research process, devised a training program which
incorporated these skills and behaviours into a typical adolescent helping
conversation.
A mixed method longitudinal design was used in an ecologically valid setting.
The longitudinal nature of the design enabled statements about the process of the peer
counsellors experience to be made.

The project combined qualitative and

quantitative methods of data gathering. Qualitative data reflects the phenomenological


experience of the adolescent peer counsellor and the researcher and quantitative data
provides an additional platform from which to view the findings. The intervention
research paradigm provided a developmental research method that is appropriate for

ix
practice research. The intervention research model is more flexible than conventional
experimental designs, capitalises on the availability of small samples, accommodates
the dynamism and variation in practice conditions and diverse populations, and
explicitly values the insights of the researcher as a practitioner. The project combines
intervention research with involvement of the researcher in the project thus enabling
the researcher to view and report the findings through her own professional and
practice lens.

x
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

Adolescence, Stress and Coping

Research into Prosocial Behaviour in Adolescents

Adolescent Peer Counsellor Training and Evaluation

Research Project Outline

16

Structure of Doctoral Thesis

17

CHAPTER 2: THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES AND EMPIRICAL SUPPORT


RELATED TO THE STUDY OF ADOLESCENT PEER COUNSELLING

19

Theories on Stress and Coping

19

Theories of Social Support

25

Theories of Prosocial Behaviour

28

Adolescent Communication Processes and Patterns

32

The Contribution of the Current Project to the Literature

36

Pro social behaviour

36

Methodological design

37

Social support

37

CHAPTER 3: REVIEW OF THE RESEARCH ON PEER COUNSELLING


AND PEER HELPER TRAINING

39

Counsellor Education Models

42

Peer Helper Training

45

Evaluating Peer Helper Training Programs

52

Summary

55

CHAPTER 4: METHODOLOGY

59

Theoretical Framework

59

Intervention Research

61

Project Design

63

Mixed Method Design

63

Longitudinal Design

65

School-Researcher Relationship

67

Participant recruitment

70

The Current Project

70

Study 1

73

xi
Study 2

74

Study 3

75

Measures

78

Qualitative Measures

78

Focus Groups

78

Analysis of Focus Groups

81

Researcher Reflections

83

Analysis of Researcher Reflections

84

Open-ended surveys

85

Analysis of Open-ended surveys

85

Quantitative measures

86

Questionnaires

86

Analysis of Questionnaires

86

The self-report Emotional Competence Questionnaire

87

Analysis of The self-report Emotional Competence Questionnaire

90

Piers Harris Childrens Self-Concept Scale

90

Analysis of Piers Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale

93

Adolescent Coping Scale

93

Analysis of Adolescent Coping Scale.

98

School Climate Survey

98

CHAPTER 5: DEVELOPMENT AND PSYCHOMETRIC ANALYSIS


OF THE SCHOOL CLIMATE SURVEY

103

School Climate

103

Standardised School Climate Surveys

103

Individualised School Climate Surveys

104

Constructing a school climate survey to identify change

106

Operational definition of the topic

107

Survey themes and categories

108

Developing survey items

109

Statistical analysis of the surveys psychometric properties

112

Participants

112

Procedure

112

Analysis

113

Results

113

xii
Conclusion
CHAPTER 6: STUDY 1

118
121

Research Questions

121

Participants

121

Procedure and Materials

122

Analysis

125

Analysis of Focus Groups

125

Analysis of Questionnaires

127

Analysis of researchers field notes

127

Results

129

Research Question 1

129

Conversational responses

129

Listening

130

Reassurance

130

Emotional regulation

131

Involvement

132

Understanding

132

Giving advice

133

Confidentiality

133

Trust

134

Helping others to talk

134

Personal disclosure

134

Respect

135

Another point of view

135

Mediation

136

Making contact

136

Endorsements

136

Collaborative problem solving

137

Safe relationship

137

Distracting

138

Evaluative responses

138

Research Question 2

139

Results from Subgroup A (Client Centred Counselling)

142

Results from subgroup B (Reality Therapy)

143

xiii
Results from subgroup C (Solution Focused Counselling)

143

Results from subgroup D (Validation and enhancement of


typical adolescent helping behaviours)
Discussion

145
145

Research Question 1

146

Goals of counselling

146

The helping relationship

146

Personal disclosure

147

Adolescent conversational characteristics and behaviours

148

Peer counsellor training

151

Research question 2

152

Active listening skills

152

Instilling hope and optimism

154

Problem solving

156

Conclusion
CHAPTER 7: STUDY 2 QUALITATIVE DATA RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

160
163

Research Questions

163

Research Question 3

164

Participants

164

Description of the Intervention

164

Procedure and measures

167

Time 1

168

Time 2

168

Time 3

169

Time 4

169

Results of Qualitative Data

171

Skill Implementation

172

Time 2 Immediately post-intervention

172

Most useful skills

173

Using the counselling skills and processes

174

The training experience

174

Time 3 - Three months post-intervention

175

Training components most valued and preferred

176

Skill use

176

xiv
Time 4 -six months post-intervention

177

Skill awareness

178

Skill use

178

Role Attribution
Time 2 Immediately post-intervention

179
179

Enhancers of the conversation when in the role of peer counsellor

180

Emotional experience of the conversation

181

Perception of success

182

Constraints of the conversation when in the role of peer counsellor

183

Time 3 - three months post-intervention

184

Rewarding aspects of helping

184

Unrewarding aspects of helping

185

Time 4 - six months post-intervention

186

Role limitations

187

Role involvement

188

Adjustment to role

188

Status

189

Time 2 Immediately post-intervention

189

Personal Characteristics contributing to peer counsellor status

190

Status with regard to relationships with others

191

Status with regard to training

191

Time 3 - three months post-intervention

191

Behaviours that indicate Status difference

193

Status as perceived by peer counsellors

194

Status as perceived by others

195

Status enhancers

196

Time 4 - six months post-intervention

196

Overall relationship with others

197

Relationship with others with regards to skill acquisition

197

Status with regard to role

198

Summary of qualitative results

198

Overall summary of qualitative results

198

Summary of qualitative results over time

199

Summary of qualitative results for early & late adolescent peer counsellors

200

xv
Summary for early and late adolescent peer counsellors over time
Discussion

201
202

Research question 3

202

Skill implementation

202

Role Attribution

209

Status

217

CHAPTER 8: QUANTITATIVE DATA RESULTS AND DISCUSSION


Research Questions
Participants

227
227
228

Description of the Intervention

228

Research Question 4

228

Procedure and measures

229

Analysis

229

Results

230

The Self-Report Emotional Competence Questionnaire

230

Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale

233

The Adolescent Coping Scale

241

Research Question 5
Procedure and measures
Results

247
248
248

The School Climate Survey


Discussion of Quantitave Data

248
255

The Self-Report Emotional Competence Questionnaire

255

The Piers Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale

259

Adolescent Coping Scale

262

School Climate Survey

265

Conclusion

270

CHAPTER 9: STUDY 3 IMPACT OF THE INTERVENTION


ON NON-PEER COUNSELLOR STUDENTS
Research Questions
Participants
Description of the Intervention
Procedure and measures
Quantitative Data Results

273
273
273
275
275
277

xvi
Research question 6
Piers Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale
Research question 7
The Adolescent Coping Scale
Research Question 8
The School Climate Survey
Discussion

277
277
279
279
281
281
282

Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale

283

Adolescent Coping Scale

284

The School Climate Survey

288

Summary

289

CHAPTER 10: DISCUSSION, LIMITATIONS AND CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE


CURRENT PROJECT
Contribution of Qualitative Findings
Adolescent Conversational Helping Behaviour

293
295
295

Adolescent Peer Counsellors Experience with regard


to their Training and Role as Peer Counsellors

298

Developmental Age Differences

302

Contribution of quantitative findings

303

Theoretical Contribution

308

Prosocial behaviour among adolescents

308

Social support

309

Peer counsellor training

310

Methodological contributions

310

Longitudinal design

311

Evaluation of the wider school environment

312

Intervention Research

312

Development of the School Climate Survey

314

Contribution of the researcher as part of the intervention and evaluation

316

xvii
Limitations of the current study

317

Implications and recommendations of the current study

321

Implications with regards to developmental stage differences

321

Recommendations with regard to methodology

322

Recommendations with regard to adolescent peer counsellor training

323

REFERENCES

329

xviii

LIST OF TABLES
4.1

Outline of Mixed Method Design

71

4.2

Timeline identifying Project Milestones

77

5.1

Description of categories in the school climate survey and their classification


according to Moos dimensions

111

5.2

Pattern matrix for orthogonal factors of the School Climate Survey

114

5.3

Correlations between the school climate factors

117

6.1 Categories of conversational helping skills and behaviours and the number and
frequency of times mentioned
6.2

Percentages of responses summarising the ease of use for each of the counselling
microskills within each subgroup

6.3

129

140

Percentages of responses summarising the usefulness of each of the counselling


microskills within each subgroup

141

7.1

Data gathering procedures, times used and subjects included

170

7.2

Skill implementation themes, categories and percentage of responses at T2

173

7.3

Skill Implementation themes, categories and percentage of responses at T3

176

7.4

Skill Implementation themes, categories and percentage of responses at T4

178

7.5

Role Attribution themes, categories and percentage of responses at T2

180

7.6 Role Attribution themes, categories and percentage of responses at T3

184

7.7 Role Attribution themes, categories and percentage of responses at T4

187

7.8 Status themes, categories and percentage of responses at T2

190

7.9 Status themes, categories and percentage of responses at T3

192

7.10 Status themes, categories and percentage of responses at T4

197

7.11 Peer counsellor responses

199

7.12 Peer counsellor responses over time

199

7.13 Early and late adolescent peer counsellors responses

200

7.14 Early and late adolescent peer counsellor responses over time

201

8.1

230

Means scores for emotional competence for peer counsellors over time

8.2 Emotional competence total mean scores for early and late adolescent peer
counsellors over time

232

8.3 Mean scores and standard deviations for peer counsellors on the Piers Harris
Childrens Self-concept subscales over time

234

xix
8.4

Status subscale mean scores for early and late adolescent peer counsellors
over time

236

8.5 Appearance subscale mean scores for early and late adolescent peer counsellors over
time

238

8.6 Freedom from anxiety subscale mean scores for early and late adolescent peer
counsellors over time

239

8.7 Popularity subscale mean scores for early and late adolescent peer counsellors over
time

240

8.8 Problem solving style mean scores for early and late adolescent peer counsellors 243
8.9

Reference to Others style mean scores for early and late adolescent peer
counsellors

8.10 Non-Productive style mean scores for early and late adolescent peer counsellors

243
243

8.11 Mean scores and standard deviations for peer counsellors on factor scores
and total school climate score of the School Climate Survey over time

250

8.12 Mean scores for School Climate Total for early adolescent peer counsellors
and late adolescent peer counsellors over time

252

8.13 Mean scores for student Perceptions of Student Relationships for early
and late adolescent peer counsellors over time

253

8.14 Mean scores for student perceptions of Teachers Relationships with Students
and Other Staff for early and late adolescent peer counsellors over time

254

9.1

Number and gender of subjects in each group

274

9.2

Number of subjects in each group

277

9.3

Differences over time for Total Sample of Non-Peer counsellors for


Piers-Harris Subscales

278

9.4

Piers Harris subscales for early and late adolescent non-peer counsellors

279

9.5

Differences over time for Total Sample of Non-Peer counsellors for


Adolescent Coping Styles

280

9.6

Adolescent Coping Subscales for Non-Peer Counsellors

280

9.7

Differences over time for non-peer counsellors for school climate total

9.8

and subscales

281

School climate mean scores for early and late adolescent non-peer counsellors

282

xx

LIST OF FIGURES
4.1

The conceptual areas of coping

8.1

Emotional Competence mean scores for all peer counsellors

8.2

Mean scores for early and late adolescent peer counsellors on


Emotional competence

96
231

232

8.3

Difference between subscale scores of Piers Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale 234

8.4

Difference between early and late adolescent peer counsellors on Status subscale 237

8.5 Difference between early and late adolescent peer counsellors on Appearance
Subscale
8.6

238

Difference between early and late adolescent peer counsellors on Freedom from
Anxiety subscale

239

8.7. Difference between early and late adolescent peer counsellors on


Popularity subscale

240

8.8. Difference between the degree of use of coping styles over time for early
adolescent peer counsellors

244

8.9. Difference between the degree of use of coping styles over time for late
adolescent peer counsellors

244

8.10 Differences between the degree to which early and late adolescent
peer counsellors use the Problem Solving style

245

8.11 Differences between the degree to which early and late adolescent
peer counsellors use the Reference to Others style

246

8.12 Differences between the degree to which early and late adolescent
peer counsellors use the Non-productive style
8.13 Total school climate score for all peer counsellors over time

247
250

8.14 Differences between factor scores on school climate for all peer counsellors
over time

251

8.15 Differences between early and late adolescent peer counsellors on


Student perceptions of student relationships

252

8.16 Differences between early and late adolescent peer counsellors on


Student perceptions of Teachers Relationships with Students and Other Staff

253

8.17 Differences between early and late adolescent peer counsellors on Student
Perceptions of Teachers Relationships with Students and other Staff

254

xxi

LIST OF APPENDICES ON CD
APPENDIX A

Advertising Brochure

APPENDIX B

Information Package

APPENDIX C

Study 1 Focus group Questions

APPENDIX D

Study 1 Sub group training outline

APPENDIX E

Study 1 Subgroup Questionnaire

APPENDIX F

Study 1 Subgroup, discussion session Questions

APPENDIX G

Transcribed statements from Study 1 subgroup discussion sessions


with regard to the ease of use and usefulness of micro-counselling
skills and peer counsellors experience of using skills

APPENDIX H

Transcribed statements relevant for each category identified in Study 1


focus groups

APPENDIX I

Adolescent Peer Helper Training Program

APPENDIX J

Study 2 Open-ended survey questions

APPENDIX K

School Climate Survey

xxii

STATEMENT OF ORIGINAL AUTHORSHIP

The work contained in this thesis has not been previously submitted for a degree or
diploma at any other higher education institution. To the best of my knowledge and
belief, the thesis contains no material previously published or written by another
person except where due reference is made.

Signed...........................................................................................
Date...............................................................................................

xxiii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to express my deep appreciation to Professor Wendy Patton for the
encouragement I received through her continual belief that I was capable of
executing this project, for her guidance, sound advice and untiring interest in the
topic.
I would like to thank my second supervisor Dr Kym Irving for her skilled and
experienced feedback and her confidence in my ability to contribute, through this
project, to the field of education and counselling.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to Dr Marilyn Campbell for her help
and advice with regard to the preparation of this thesis. Her meticulous attention to
detail has been of considerable value and was greatly appreciated.
My sincere thanks goes to Immanuel Lutheran College for their willingness to
participate as a partner in this project and most of all to the young people who
participated with unwavering sincerity and commitment.
Finally, I wish to thank my husband David Geldard whose encouragement and
love enabled me to embark on, and complete this project.

xxiv

CHAPTER 1
Introduction
Adolescence, Stress and Coping
Everyday it is common to read of the demands and stresses increasingly faced by
individuals. Finding employment in competitive conditions and developing relationships
with others, coupled with the increased demands of self-organisation and adaptation to
technology, can contribute to life being experienced as stressful. Additionally, many
individuals experience anxiety and stress related to personal safety and security in an age
of national and international events which are often alarmingly disturbing. Stress cannot
be avoided and it should not be assumed that stress is necessarily bad. Indeed, a certain
amount of stress is necessary for providing energy required to adapt and accomplish
goals. Additionally, it needs to be recognised that whether an event is perceived to be
significantly stressful depends on an individual's ability to cope with stress and
interpretation of the event as stressful.
Because adolescence is a stage of human development during which a young
person must move from dependency to independence and develop autonomy and
maturity, young people, in particular, are faced with many challenges (Dacey & Kenny,
1997; Maybe & Sorensen, 1995; White, 1996; Winefield & Tiggeman, 1990). Some
young people are more successful than others when confronting and dealing with the
stress associated with the challenges of adolescent life; they are more resilient and have
better coping strategies (Baumrind, 1991a, 1991b; Borrine, Handal, Brown & Seawright,
1991; Chassin & Barrera, 1993; Frydenberg & Lewis, 2002; Patton & Noller, 1990;
Schoon & Bynner, 2003). However, some adolescents are unable to confront and deal
with these challenges successfully.

2
During adolescence, young people inevitably face physiological and biological
changes. These changes influence the young person's emotional state. Additionally, the
emergence of sexual drives predisposes the young person to explore new relationships
which produce social and interpersonal challenges.
During adolescence young people also experience cognitive changes.

They

develop a capacity for abstract thinking, discern new ways of processing information and
learn to think creatively and critically. How young people make use of these new
cognitive skills so that they can experience positive outcomes is a challenge. Forming an
identity, parental expectations, societal expectations, and managing the influence of peers
are also challenging for most young people (Geldard & Geldard, 2004). These adolescent
challenges combined with the stresses and demands of life lead many young people to
become disillusioned, overwhelmed and unable to cope.
It is clearly relevant and important to carry out research into adolescent coping
and to discover ways to prevent the development of unhelpful psychological, emotional
and behavioural consequences resulting from the inability to manage stress and anxiety.
Additionally, it is important to discover ways to promote and enhance adolescent mental
health and well being.
To date, research attention has been directed towards linking coping with social
support in order to evolve an interpersonal theory of coping with stress (Delongis &
OBrien, 1990; Greenglass, 1993; Hobfoll, Dunahoo, Ben-Porth, & Monnier, 1994).
Johnson and Johnson (2002) identify this approach as useful in teaching adolescents how
to cope with stress. They view the individual as being part of a network of relationships.
Therefore, stress is dealt with within the social network, drawing on resources above and
beyond that of the individual. Coping is viewed and described by Johnson and Johnson
(2002) as involving joint problem solving, social support, social comparison, joint

3
identity and intimate confidential conversations. The authors continue by suggesting that
adolescents need to be taught how to interact in relationships where they can receive the
help and assistance they need to cope. They point out that there is a danger in viewing the
individual as an independent and separate entity who deals with stress in his/her own way
using only his/her own resources. They claim that viewing coping as an individual
activity leads to a self-orientation and delusion that each person lives his/her life separate
from others. Such a social isolationist view may in fact decrease coping ability. Taking
this into account, the current project explores how adolescents cope with stress within
their peer group by using the strategy of social support. It describes the process whereby
this coping strategy can be encouraged and examines and reports the outcomes of a social
support intervention.
A number of factors influence the implementation of helpful coping strategies.
Important among these are shifts in societal thinking, policy, attitudes and values. At
times it seems that the questioning of societal norms and a shift away from traditional
religious beliefs has undermined the usefulness of spirituality as a means of coping and
support for some young people. Self-help strategies such as the use of relaxing diversions
and physical recreation rely on personal initiative and insight, and making use of these
strategies is probably easier with a past history and experience of constructive modelling
from others. Other tension reduction strategies such as drug and alcohol use run the risk
of developing into substance abuse behaviours. This is particularly so among the
adolescent population who typically take risks and experiment with new behaviours
(Geldard & Geldard, 2004; Ponton, 1997). Seeking professional help in the form of
counselling can be useful but is limited to a prescribed relationship often with a one-way
focus on personal disclosure, problem solving, and challenging self-destructive thought
processes. Seeking professional help is not generally a preferred option for young people

4
(Gibson-Cline, 1996). It is well documented that young people generally prefer to seek
help from their peers (Buhrmester & Prager, 1995; Carr, 1984; Gibson-Cline, 1996;
Turner, 1999) suggesting that it is unlikely that they will seek adult counselling help in
the first instance. Up to 90% of adolescents tell their peers rather than a professional of
their distress (Kalafat & Elias, 1995; Offer et al., 1991). However research has identified
a number of factors that influence help-seeking behaviour, including gender, availability
of social support (Rickwood & Braithwaite, 1994), expectations about outcomes (Simoni
et al., 1991) type of psychological problem (Deane et al., 2001), and emotional
competence (Ciarrochi, Wilson, Deane & Rickwood, 2003). Additionally Boldero and
Fallon (1995) identified that older adolescents asked peers for help frequently while
greater numbers of the younger respondents in their study asked family members.
However these findings may simply reflect the changing amount of time young people
spend with family and peers across adolescence (eg., Beinstein and Lane, 1991).
Consistent with previous research Wilson and Dean (2001) report that students repeatedly
suggest that strong positive relationships with potential help givers are very important in
influencing their current help seeking from either peers or adults. However students in
their study extend this information by suggesting that adolescents are more amenable to
help from a helper perceived to have gone through the same sort of thing so that the
helper can describe how they went about resolving their problem. This is more likely
when young people talk with other young people who are experiencing similar troubles
and as a result adolescents are likely to experience some relief in feeling less isolated
because their problems are normalised. Adolescents are on a developmental journey
where they are trying to attain their own individuality and establish their autonomy and
so, are often reluctant to consult with adults about their problems as they see adults as
generally taking a parental stance (Carr, 1984). A consequence of this communication

5
barrier between parents and teenagers has been identified by the American Academy of
Child Psychiatry who note that adolescent suicide is most frequently associated with
communication difficulties with parents (Peach & Reddick, 1991). It is therefore not
surprising that adolescents, and not adults, are usually the first to know that their
adolescent peers are experiencing distress which may lead to undesirable consequences.
Research into Prosocial Behaviour in Adolescents
Clearly it is important to examine and understand the phenomenon of prosocial
behaviour among adolescents because of its influence on adolescent coping strategies.
Bergin, Talley and Hamer (2003), in their review of the literature, define prosocial
behaviour as a voluntary behaviour that benefits others or promotes harmonious relations
with others. They state that this definition could encompass a wide variety of behaviours,
including social conventions, for example politeness, and domination in the form of
breaking up a fight in spite of resistance from peers. They point out that most of the
research addressing prosocial development in youth has focused on only a few
behaviours, such as sharing (Miller, 1991), helping (Eberley & Montemayor, 1998) or
volunteering (Roker, Player & Coleman, 1999) and that in addition to a narrow focus on
the type of prosocial behaviour examined, research has often used artificial measures of
these behaviours in contrived settings. Radke-Yarrow and Zahn-Waxler (1986) point out
that unless researchers sacrifice internal validity for external validity "this field of
research will be relatively limited in predicting or controlling prosocial behaviour in ways
that make a difference in the lives of individuals and groups" (p. 230). They call for new
field approaches when undertaking future research in the area. This can be achieved by
using focus groups and a qualitative methodology to obtain descriptions of the
conversational helping behaviours of young adolescents and their experience of helping
peers in an ecologically valid setting as perceived and described by young people.

6
Helping others and making sacrifices of personal goals to help others are valued
behaviours in adolescence (Killen & Turiel, 1998). However it is clear that published
research has typically emphasised overt behaviours, such as instrumental helping and
sharing (Bergin, Talley & Hamer, 2003; Miller, 1991). In their meta-analysis of the
research on prosocial behaviours in the community of adolescents, Bergin, et al (2003)
point out that research on authentic prosocial behaviours described by young adolescents
has not been conducted in the field of prosocial development. In their study, they found
that the relational prosocial behaviours of providing emotional support, complementing
and encouraging others, keeping confidences, emotional regulation, and remaining calm,
were behaviours identified and valued by young people. These prosocial behaviours are
usefully investigated in this present project, which focuses specifically on conversational
helping behaviour among adolescent peers where these behaviours are likely to occur.
With this in mind, ways to teach or enhance conversational helping behaviour in the
adolescent population was explored.
While children, adolescents and adults help each other in their peer environments,
there are differences in the way they do it. Children have limited cognitive skills and are
largely dependent on adults in their social environment for finding solutions and making
decisions. The child's capacity for self-reflection is limited because it is a developmental
skill which comes through maturation, social experiences and the development of
communications skills (Piaget & Inhelder, 1969). As a consequence, childrens helping
behaviour is limited to practical gestures based on empathic responses (Eisenberg &
Fabes, 1998).
Adults are generally relatively free to make decisions and choices without
excessive influence from family or others. Helping in an adult environment is based on
the assumption that adults have personal autonomy and choice regarding their actions as

7
individuals, and the belief that the helper need not directly intervene or provide solutions.
Helping others in an adult environment is based on listening and communicating in ways
that enable people to share their troubles and as a consequence feel better (Jones &
Burleson, 2003).

Sometimes providing material aid and practical help will be an

extension of the helping behaviour in adult relationships (Sanders, 1996).


Unlike children, adolescents have less dependence on their families.

Their

relationships with their families are changing as they seek more independence. Young
people often doubt whether any adult is capable of understanding them, or their situation,
so consequently they may believe that any assistance or advice they may be given by an
adult will be irrelevant and unhelpful. In contrast to this, there is reciprocity in peer
relationships (Henry, Reed, & McAllister, 1995) and this is central to self-disclosure
(Sullivan, 1953). Additionally, adolescents use specific verbal conversational
characteristics and relational processes when communicating with each other, which are
different from the way they communicate with adults (Beaumont, 1996; Rotenberg, 1995;
Sullivan, 1953). It is because of these differences, between adolescents, children, and
adults, that any program designed to teach or enhance adolescent conversational helping
behaviours should be compatible with the typical conversational and relational behaviours
of adolescents, and also compatible with an adolescent learning style. For example, in a
helping conversation personal disclosure by the person being helped is central to the
conversation if the person being helped is to feel better and find solutions to problems.
Many authors (Beaumont, 1996; Chan, 2001; Rotenberg, 1995; Sullivan, 1953; Worcel
Shields & Paterson, 1999) make it clear that adolescents use specific verbal and nonverbal conversational characteristics while self-disclosing. While the current prosocial
literature explores helping behaviours, it does not focus on the possibility that unique
communication characteristics occur in helping conversations among adolescents.

8
However, information from the literature on adolescent communication and disclosure
processes can inform further research on the typical conversational and relational
processes used by adolescents with their peers and be used to determine better ways to
enhance the conversational helping behaviours of adolescents.
Adolescent Peer Counsellor Training and Evaluation
The literature on peer helping is useful with regard to understanding issues related
to teaching prosocial behaviour in adolescents. A number of authors (Carr & Saunders,
1980; de Rosenroll, 1988; Morey & Miller, 1993; Myrick & Sorensen, 1988; Painter,
1989; Tindall, 1989; Turner, 1999) have designed programs for training adolescents to
help each other using conversational skills. In these program there has been little
consistency in the way trainees have been recruited or selected. Additionally, all
programs have relied on teaching the use of skills and strategies taken from adult
communication and counselling approaches. As a consequence of the recruitment and
training practices used, problems with these programs have arisen. These have been
identified as including difficulties for adolescent peer helpers with role attribution and
status difference when compared with their peers (Carr & Saunders, 1980; de Rosenroll,
1988) and difficulty when initially trying to use typical adult counselling skills in a
helping conversation (Carr & Saunders, 1980). For example, Carr (1984) observed that
once the core counselling skills had been reasonably mastered that young people may
feel awkward, mechanical or phoney (p. 11) when trying to implement the new skills.
He also recognised that certain skills may need refreshing (Car & Saunders, 1980) and
suggests that evaluation using video and/or audio equipment is important to evaluate
whether skills have been mastered and the performance of the students in using these
skills. Issues with regard to role attribution appear to be particularly problematic with
regard to helping activities undertaken by young people (de Rosenroll, 1988). Concerns

9
relate to use of the term counsellor which carries with it professional expectations,
regarding training and duties. Myrick (1976), Anderson (1976), and Jacobs, Masson and
Vass (1976) suggest that students do not receive the depth of training necessary to fully
undertake a counselling relationship and that the role counsellor presents a
misinterpretation of the concept. Peavy (1977) was concerned not only that the role of
counsellor could imply professional status but also that for too many people counselling
was an acceptable label for advice giving. Attempts to address the issue of skill
implementation difficulties have been made by allocating specific training sessions to
deal with these issues. Carr and Saunders, (1980) also suggest teaching participants
specific responses that can be used to assist them when dealing with silence, when talking
to peers whose behaviours are difficult to condone, and when experiencing rejection,
rather than encouraging the young person to rely on their own communication and
relationship skills with their peers to overcome these problems. Similarly, when
addressing issues related to role attribution and status differences, these authors suggest
encouraging peer counsellors to establish a trusting relationship without forcing
themselves onto their peers and to manage issues related to resentment from their peers
during supervision sessions.
Recruitment and selection processes appear to have contributed to difficulties with
regard to role attribution and status differences. Three criteria which appear to have been
utilised by many programs in selecting adolescent peer counsellors include perceptions of
the peer counsellors similarity to students with whom they might work, recommendation
by key adults such as teachers, counsellors, or a school principal, and recommendation by
psychometric assessments (Downe, Altman, & Nysetvold, 1986). All three selection
criteria have the potential to contribute to role attribution and status difference issues. For
example, when considering a peer counsellors similarity to the population with whom

10
they will be working, de Rosenroll (1988) points out that cliquing of peer groups during
junior and senior high school indicate that adolescents do react to perceived differences.
Peer counsellors recommended by key adults are at risk of being rejected by their peers
due to the perceived difference in social standing of the peer counsellor compared with
their peers. Similarly, peer counsellors who are selected based on the results of
psychometric testing are at risk of being rejected by their peers due to the perceived
differences in ability of the peer counsellors compared with their peers.
Most adolescent peer counsellor training programs include self-awareness
promotion and the acquisition of basic counselling skills of attending, listening,
facilitative problem solving and interpersonal relationship skills. In his meta-analysis of
adolescent peer helper training, de Rosenrolls (1988) summary claimed that the training
programs studied offer skills and awareness so that trainees natural communication skills
are enhanced and augmented to enable them to be more effective when helping their
peers. However, examination of existing adolescent peer counsellor training programs
does not support his claim. It is well-known that adolescents use distinctive ways of
communicating with each other (Beaumont, 1996; Reed, Macleod & McAllister, 1999;
Rotenberg, 1995; Worcel, Shields, & Paterson, 1999). Communication strategies such as
persuading, advising, recommending, praising, supporting, sympathising, diverting, and
kidding, appear to be commonly used by young people. However these responses are
described as roadblocks and communication stoppers in the counselling literature and
have been actively discouraged when training young people to become peer counsellors
(Carr & Saunders, 1980; Painter, 1989; Sanders, 1999; Tindall, 1989). De Rosenroll
cautions against iatrogeny (helper-caused problems) and suggests that many roadblocks to
communication might represent inappropriate interventions whereby a peer counsellor
could confound or worsen client issues. As such he suggests that trainers must ensure that

11
iatrogenic issues are minimised. It is suggested that by discouraging the young persons
typical communication processes iatrogenic issues will be minimised. Indeed, it appears
that existing training programs have not been designed to specifically enhance and
augment the unique and typical conversational and helping behaviours of adolescents.
Instead they have been based on teaching conventional adult counselling skills and
processes and prohibiting the use of some typical adolescent conversational and helping
behaviours.
Evaluations of existing adolescent peer counsellor training programs have focused
on the outcomes of peer helping such as the benefits for the peer counsellor and those
being helped (Abu-Rasain & Williams, 1999; Morey & Miller, 1993; Price & Jones,
2001; Varenhorst, 1992). However evaluation of training programs could extend previous
research by additionally exploring whether the problems of skill implementation, role
attribution, and status differences could be minimised or eliminated by training adolescent
peer counsellors in a program which is more compatible with their typical conversational
helping behaviours. If these differences can be reduced, it may be, that adolescent peer
counsellors will be more approachable and the coping strategy of using social support will
be more readily available within school communities.
The school community provides an ethnographically and ecologically valid setting
to investigate adolescent behaviours. Where most research designs have relied on
investigations remaining separate from the lived environment, studies emphasising the
implementation of change on-site as part of the research provide an opportunity to employ
research models which are more flexible than conventional experimental designs. Studies
that emphasise implementing change on-site can accommodate the dynamism and
variation in practice conditions with diverse populations (Bailey-Dempsey & Reid, 1996;
Rothman & Thomas, 1994). Additionally, the presence or absence of resources available

12
in the environment is a key determinant of the coping process (Frydenberg & Lewis,
2002). Because different resources are used by some groups and not others (Cohen &
Edwards, 1989; Turner & Roszell, 1994; Vanderzeil, 2000), and because some
environments may be particularly sensitive to change than others at specific times
(Frydenberg & Lewis), situating the current project within the school community enables
careful investigation of the resource of social support from peers and of the availability of
the support in the school environment.
Boekaerts (2002) notes a major shift in the psychology of education with young
people. In discussing her views with regard to the emerging field of positive psychology
she describes a teaching process that invites students to adopt a new learner role by being
active, constructive, self-regulated, and responsible learners. Most peer counsellor
training programs are based on the assumption that teaching effective helping skills is
best done in discrete and finite blocks, each with a beginning and an end, and then
integrating all that has been learned (Myrick & Sorensen, 1988; Painter, 1989; Tindall,
1989). This is not consistent with Boekaerts (2002) views with regard to current trends
in teaching. An exhaustive literature search shows a lack of empirical research on
teaching adolescent peer counsellors using Boekaerts proposed methodology. Her
discussion suggests that it might be useful to apply the latest teaching methods when
training adolescents to become peer counsellors. It can be argued that implementing and
evaluating an alternative peer counsellor training model can best be accomplished through
the practice of intervention research. Rather than providing recommendations for action
as a result of the research the research itself acts as a vehicle for implementing change.
Participants participation and control over the research process is maximised and the
relationship between the researcher and participants is enhanced thereby increasing the
potential richness of the data gathered.

13
School climate refers to the general atmosphere of the school site (Krug, 1989).
Schools can be perceived as caring and supportive of students or hostile and nonsupportive. Positive school climates include factors such as trust, respect, mutual
obligation and concern for others' welfare and can have powerful effects on teacherstudent interpersonal relationships, student academic achievement and overall school
progress (Manning & Saddlemire, 1996).
The literature strongly suggests that there is a relationship between students
interpersonal development, well-being, academic achievement, school completion, stress
and school climate (Buddeberg-Fischer, Klaghofer & Leuthold, 2000; Gottfredson &
Hollifield, 1988; Howe, 1995; Manning & Saddlemire, 1996; Persaud & Madak, 1992;
Rojewski & Wendel, 1990; Whelage, 1989a, 1989b; Whelage & Rutter, 1986).
Buddeberg-Fischer et al. (2000) studied the relationship between school climate, school
stress, sense of coherence, and physical and psychological symptoms in adolescent high
school students. Their results showed a significant negative correlation between school
stress and school climate, and argued for the consideration of developing health
promotion programs for high school students. Existing research is very clear in drawing
attention to the positive effects associated with a positive school climate (BuddebergFischer, Klaghofer & Leuthold, 2000; Gottfredson & Hollifield, 1988; Howe, 1995;
Manning & Saddlemire, 1996; Persaud & Madak, 1992; Rojewski & Wendel, 1990;
Rumburger, 1987; Whelage, 1989a, 1989b; Whelage & Rutter, 1986).
Positive school climate does not necessarily occur naturally (Dewey, 1997;
Kelley, 1980). School climate improvements rely either on changes in the schools culture
or changes in perceptions of the climate held by the schools staff and students. The
literature suggests that to influence school climate inclusion of a number of factors in
programs or interventions are likely to enhance positive outcomes (Benson & Benson,

14
1993; Bulach & Malone, 1994; Burrell & Vogl, 1990; Crary, 1992; Gottfredson &
Gottfredson, 2001; Greer, 1991; Hannah, 1998; Kelley, 1980; Lochman, Dunn & KlimesDougan, 1993; Marcus & Nurius, 1986; Shepherd, 1994; Stevhan, Johnson, Johnson,
Green, & Laginski 1997; Toepfer, 1999). These factors include purposeful intervention to
change school climate, preventative interventions which aim to address the possibility of
particular problems occurring, and the inclusion of students in these interventions.
Programs adopted by a school to influence the academic outcomes and the wellbeing of students are more likely to impact on school climate positively where programs
are integrated into the school curriculum (Hannah, 1998; Toepfer, 1999). Additionally,
Gottfredson and Gottfredson (2001) have developed a classification of prevention
activities which can reduce problem behaviour or promote school safety. Included in the
strategies are therapeutic interventions, mentoring, giving youth roles in responding to
student conduct, and creating distinctive culture or climates for interpersonal exchanges.
Taking account of the literature, there is a strong case for suggesting that school
climate will change positively if a peer counsellor training program is introduced as a
purposeful intervention which is preventative in orientation and includes active
participation by students. Peer counsellor training programs fit comfortably with the
strategies suggested by Gottfredson and Gottfredson (2001), because adolescent peer
counselling relies strictly on young people being involved in responding to peer
behaviour and because the programs are likely to create a distinctive climate for
interpersonal exchange. Additionally, if the suggestions of Hannah (1998) and Toepfer
(1999) are accommodated, a peer counsellor training program integrated into the
classroom timetable is likely to maximise positive perceptions of school climate.
Assessing school climate can shed light on the impact of particular programs or
interventions. Where programs or interventions have been implemented to influence the

15
well-being of students, pre- and post-assessment of school climate can measure the
impact of those programs or interventions on school climate. For example Abu-Rasain
and Williams (1999) used a pre- and post-individualised school climate survey to
discover whether a peer-counselling program influenced student perceptions of school
climate. Most commonly, teachers are canvassed to provide perceptions of school climate
(Burden & Fraser, 1994; Fisher & Grady, 1998; Gust, 1999; Johnson, 1999; Johnson &
Stevens, 2001) and it is difficult to find school climate surveys which rely on student
perceptions only. One is more likely to find studies where school climate surveys are
conducted drawing on teacher perceptions in conjunction with classroom environment
surveys drawing on student perceptions (Fisher & Fraser, 1991; Fisher, Fraser &
Wubbels, 1993; Fraser, Williamson & Tobin, 1987).
Fisher and Fraser (1991) make an important distinction between school and class
environment. Their research indicates a need to separate student perceptions from teacher
perceptions of environments. The importance of focusing on student perceptions of
school climate is demonstrated in studies which provide evidence that learning outcomes
and student attitudes towards learning are closely linked to the classroom environment
(Fraser, 1981, 1986) and in studies which indicate the relationship between positive
student perceptions of school climate and positive student outcomes with regard to
achievement (Anderson, 1982; Baker, 1998). The separation of perceptions between
students and teachers would seem to be essential when investigating the impact of
intervention programs where peers use strategies that directly target the emotional and
psychological health of other students. Student perceptions clearly outweigh teacher
perceptions when examining the impact of such interventions. Using student perceptions
would seem to be quite acceptable as Perkins, Guerin and Schlech (1990) found that

16
pupils ratings were valid enough to be considered reliable ways of measuring
interactions between two parties.
The above research lends support for the use of school climate surveys, completed
by students, to evaluate the impact of an adolescent peer counsellor intervention on the
wider adolescent community in a high school. More importantly, the use of a school
climate survey that obtains student perceptions of their relationships with teachers and
other students, and the interaction of those relationships, provides more accurate
information with regard to the impact of the intervention on the young people who may
benefit, than information obtained from teachers.
Research Project Outline
Galambos and Leadbeater (2000) suggest that adolescent research for the new
millennium should focus on positive psychosocial outcomes and resilience. They point
out that with the current focus on the problems of youth, it is easy to neglect consideration
of their competencies and prosocial activities. It is clear that more knowledge is needed
about adolescents health enhancing behaviours so that successful interventions can be
designed to promote these behaviours. With this in mind, this research project addresses
these recommendations by exploring the adolescent coping strategy of using social
support in the adolescent peer group. Also, an adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training
program which is compatible with typical adolescent prosocial behaviours was developed.
The current project comprised three studies.

The first study explored how

adolescents typically support and help each other and what they say and do to help each
other feel better and find solutions to problems.

The second study examined how

conversational helping behaviours can be taught to adolescents with an emphasis placed


on developing an adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program in collaboration
with young people. The training program integrated those counselling microskills that

17
young people value and find useful and easy-to-use. In particular, Study 2 examined the
experience of trained adolescents in their role as peer counsellors in a high school. For
most adolescents their social system involves peer relationships. The school experience
can provide a continuous and familiar environment involving peer relationships and has
the potential to offer a positive climate where seeking and giving support can occur
among peers. According to Resnick et al. (1997), school connectedness is a protective
factor against health risk behaviours such as violence, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse,
and early pregnancy. The third study explored how the peer counsellor training program,
designed in the second study, and the role of the peer counsellor impact on the responses
of the wider community of the school environment.
Structure of Doctoral Thesis
To support the viability and value of this research, the theoretical perspectives of
adolescent coping using social support as a resource and adolescent communication is
presented first. Second, a review of existing research on training and teaching prosocial
behaviours to adolescents in the form of conversational helping behaviours is outlined.
This literature provides the empirical base which contributes to the rationale of the current
research program. The methodology of the research is detailed in accordance with the
research questions and finally the results of each study and discussion of the findings
complete this document.

18

19

CHAPTER 2
Theoretical Perspectives and Empirical Support related to the Study of Adolescent Peer
Counselling
During the last 35 years a number of theories to explain stress, coping and social
support have been suggested. These theories are useful when exploring and considering
the adolescents use of social support as a resource for dealing with stress. Perhaps the
most salient theory which underpins the use of social support as a coping strategy comes
from Hobfolls (1988) conservation of resource (COR) theory which views social support
as the building block for successfully mastering environmental demands (Freedy &
Hobfoll, 1994, p.320). Since Hobfolls COR theory there has been interest in resource
investment in environments (Quick & Gavin, 2001). Hobfolls COR theory parallels
theories on preventative stress management which are concerned with health promotion
achieved by investing in programs that enhance positive coping strategies. One way to
invest in programs that enhance positive coping strategies is to focus on interventions that
encourage, teach and enhance people's ability to be supportive in their social
environments.
In this chapter relevant theoretical perspectives related to stress, coping and social
support will be discussed in terms of their current status and in relation to their suitability
in exploring peer counselling among adolescents. In addition, two perspectives related
directly to the study of adolescent peer counselling will be outlined. Firstly the research
and literature on prosocial behaviours will be presented. Secondly the research and
literature on adolescent communication processes will be discussed.
Theories on Stress and Coping
Resource-based theories of stress and coping, of which Hobfolls COR theory is
one, have received increased attention as they directly challenge appraisal-based stress

20
theories which previously dominated research in the area. Resources have been defined as
those objects, personal characteristics, conditions or energies that are valued because they
act as conduits to the achievement or protection of other valued resources. By contrast,
according to appraisal based theories, when transactions with the environment are
appraised by the individual as threatening or challenging, they result in stress being
regulated by emotion focused strategies designed to reduce the stress or manage the
problem (Folkman & Lazarus, 1998; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).
Thoits (1995) raises a concern about appraisal based theory which may be useful
to pursue in future research into stress and coping, and this is the influence of structural
constraints. She suggests that if we pursue questions about the relationship between
personality resources and effective coping, then we will also need to attend more closely
to the objective features of individuals situations that constrain action. Holahan and
Moos (1987) have offered a model of coping where there is an emphasis on the
interaction between multiple resources. They suggest taking into account both subjective
coping resources and environmental resources.
The multiple resource model of stress is arguably best illustrated by COR theory.
According to COR theory, people strive for more resources and build up resistance
factors to ward off future crises. In his discussion of COR theory, Hobfoll (2001)
includes resources that have a perceptual component. However, in concert with Thoits
(1995), he emphasises that it is changes in the real conditions or actual circumstances that
encourage or constrain an individual from successfully developing resources that the
individual believes will be useful. Although using interventions that help people reframe
their perceptions of stress and coping may have value at some level (Brandstadter, 1989),
COR theory supports the development of interventions that change people's resources or
their environments. This perspective opens new research questions and helps to overcome

21
research which focuses on the use of traditional coping models that overemphasise the
reactive nature of coping.
Differences in coping with stress have usually been attributed to a lack of inherent
coping resources, in particular to low self-esteem and an individual's perception of their
level of control. Historically, these two personal coping resources, that is self-esteem and
a sense of control or mastery over life, have most frequently been studied. These coping
resources are presumed to influence the choice and/or the efficacy of the coping strategies
that people use in response to stressors. An impressive number of studies show that a
sense of control or mastery directly reduces psychological disturbance and buffers the
deleterious effects of stress on physical and mental health (see Thoits, 1995). However,
the stress literature indicates that some groups appear to be more vulnerable than others to
stressors (Thoits). For example females, minority group members, unmarried persons,
and especially those of lower education, and of lower socioeconomic status, exhibit a
lower sense of mastery, personal control, and internal locus of control in response to
stress (Mirowsky & Ross, 1989; Turner & Roszell, 1994). Similarly self-esteem varies
with social status (Turner & Roszell, 1994). The research doesn't identify whether
personal coping resources or availability of resources in the environment are responsible
for the differences in the way individuals cope with stress (Cohen & Edwards, 1989;
Turner & Roszell, 1994). For example, in their summary of recent developments in theory
and research on resilience, Schoon and Bynner (2003) indicated that particular personal
attributes could serve as protective factors, but that these attributes are substantially
shaped by life circumstances and that positive adaptation, or resilience, does not only
reside within the person, but in the active interactions between the person and aspects of
the environment they experience.

22
With regard to developing coping skills in adolescents, there has been an emphasis
on programs that develop young people's coping skills through the development of
positive cognitions. Because of the critical part that appraisal is seen to play, it has been
suggested that any programs that attempt to develop young people's coping skills through
the development of positive cognitions also need to teach skills of positive cognitive
appraisal (Frydenberg & Lewis, 2002). Additionally, there is a growing interest in the
development of direct instruction programs to address coping with stress, and there are
also resources available to help clinicians and instructors to develop tailor made programs
aimed at coping skills for dealing with stress (Forman, 1993). Similarly there is a growing
interest in the development of direct instruction programs focusing on coping skills
provided to young people in school settings (Brandon, Cunningham & Frydenberg 1999;
Cunningham, 2001; Forman, 1993; Rice, Herman & Petersen, 1993; Shochet & Osgarby,
1999). However these programs, while indicating that coping efficacy beliefs were
stronger post program, have emphasised the intrapersonal competency and agency of the
young person without considering whether there were support resources available for the
young person to access in the young persons environment. Additionally, researchers
generally have focused on programs aimed at children and young people who are at risk
rather than prevention programs for all children (Roberts, 1999). Consequently, the need
for a fit of coping skills programs with particular groups of young people is
increasingly being recognised (Frydenberg & Lewis, 2002). Also, there is an implication
that future preventative interventions should focus more on the reduction of maladaptive
coping strategies rather than the more common goal of increasing problem-focused
coping (Frydenberg & Lewis, 2002). By emphasising the use of productive coping
strategies such as social support, adolescent peer counselling as an intervention can go

23
part way to addressing this need for a fit between coping skills programs and
adolescents.
According to Hobfolls COR theory, social support can be seen as a resource used
by individuals to cope with stress. The building of social resources, in particular those
that are valued by young people, is likely to be of benefit. The COR model is currently
being examined with populations of young people (Mackenzie, 2001; Vanderzeil, 2000)
and appears to have validity and utility for adolescents. However the resources identified
by Hobfoll (1989) as being important to adults (car, house, good marriage, good personal
characteristics, self-esteem, and mastery) are not generally the same resources (peers,
friendship, school, health and possessions) that adolescents value (Vanderzeil, 2000). As
a consequence, when discussing the outcomes of current adolescent coping research it is
likely that we may lose sight, not of the young persons personal agency, but of structural
constraints on that agency. In particular, this may be so for adolescents as a group.
Results from longitudinal studies indicate that in order to avert the development of
non-productive coping strategies we need to consider both the sex of the person for whom
the intervention is being developed, as well as their age (Frydenberg & Lewis, 2002). For
example, there appear to be indications that it is useful to intervene in the psychosocial
development of adolescents of 14-16 years of age in order to attract their interest and
commitment, and to capitalise on the particular developmental stage that they are
traversing (Frydenberg & Lewis, 2002). These findings provide researchers with a
window of opportunity to conduct research which explores the structural constraints to
the availability of, and access to, social support resources within the adolescent
population.
According to Hobfolls COR theory, stress occurs when resources are threatened
or where there is a loss of resources. The theory goes on to speculate that where there is a

24
resource loss, the resource pool is diminished for subsequent encounters. For example, if
social support is a frequently utilised resource and a particular friendship is lost there is
depletion of the individual's resource pool. The encounter may result in a loss spiral in
that the loss of friendship may lead to depression which in turn may account for poor
school performance and subsequent failure to get into an educational or training program.
Resources act to protect and preserve other resources (Hobfoll, Freedy, Green, &
Solomon, 1996). Even though resources available in the environment for some groups to
cope with stress may be different from the resources available for use by other groups and
even though some environments may be particularly sensitive to change than others at
specific times, what is not in dispute is that the ever expanding or diminishing body of
resources is a key determinant of the coping process (Frydenberg & Lewis, 2002).
When considering new directions in coping resources and coping strategies
research, it has been suggested that it may be useful to pursue issues concerning the
influence of structural constraints (Thoits, 1995). COR theory has definite implications
for practice that distinguish it from most other currently held stress and coping theories.
Quick and Gavin (2001) point out that the COR theory focuses attention on resource
investment in environments. When looking at environmental change this will often mean
removing obstacles to people's successful application of, or access to resources, or
altering environments so that they better fit the resources of those in that environment.
For example, Quick and Gavin suggest that on a social level, this might require removing
ethnic, religious or gender biases from environments that prevent groups from utilising
the environments resources. The assumption is that interventions that focus on expanding
resources or making resources more available may also be of benefit. Because social
support is considered a coping resource, a social fund in the environment from which
people may draw when handling stressors, then intentionally altering environments so

25
that social support is more accessible in the environment, contributes to resource
investment in that environment.
Theories of Social Support
Many theoreticians have argued that the theoretical definitions of social support
are too restrictive and inadequate because the concept is multifaceted. Vaux (1988) argues
that social support encompasses three constructs: support networks, supportive
behaviours and a subjective appraisal of support. Cohen (1992) agrees that an allencompassing definition should not be used and also suggests measuring three aspects of
social support which are very similar to Vauxs position. These are social networks,
perceived support and supportive behaviours. Limitations of both the Vaux (1988) and
Cohen (1992) definitions are that types of relationships and interactions between the
provider and recipient of social support are not emphasised. Additionally, reasons for
providing support, reciprocity, and recipient and provider characteristics, are other facets
of the multidimensional concept of social support which are not captured in their
theoretical definitions. Similarly, models used to examine the concept of social support
typically found in the research literature are limited and can generally be categorised as
provider models (Ben-Ari & Gill, 2002; Dayan, Doyle & Markiewicz, 2001; DunkelSchetter& Skokan, 1990; Hupcey, 2001). Though these models are important because
they provide the opportunity to examine social support in terms of the provision of a
resource, they are extremely narrow in their helpfulness as models to investigate the
phenomena of social support. In provider models one or more individuals provide helpful
support to a recipient and information with regard to satisfaction with the support
provided is obtained from the recipient. Because the characteristics and perceptions of
both the provider and recipient influence the provision and acceptance of support, other
aspects of social support interactions, such as reciprocal relationships, stressful

26
relationships, the provision of negative or harmful support and nonreciprocal relationships
influence the recipients perception of satisfaction with the support provided (Hupcey,
1998). These influencing factors are not taken into account when using provider models
to research social support.
Social support is not a concrete concept as it appears in the provider models but is
a dynamic process that includes the interaction between the provider and recipient and
varies by recipient and provider (Hupcey, 1998). A more realistic view, comes from Vaux
(1988) who states that "social support phenomena involve both objective and inherently
subjective elements: both actual events and activities and the participants perceptions and
appraisal of these. Both must be addressed for a complete understanding of social
support" (Vaux, 1988 p.17).
Social support is viewed as an exchange of resources between at least two
individuals. The importance of social exchange is evident in many definitions of social
support (Langford, Bowsher, Maloney, & Lillis, 1997).

Social exchange has been

identified by Stevens (1992) as a positive relationship between life satisfaction and the
receiving of social support, as well as the giving of social support.
Because the characteristics and perceptions of both the provider and recipient
influence the provision and acceptance of support, other aspects of social support
interactions have been proposed as potential models to guide research in social support
(Dunkel-Schetter & Bennett, 1990; Kahn, 1994; Rook & Dooley, 1985; Sarason et al.,
1990). Proposed models of social support interactions that have been suggested include; a
non-reciprocal relationships model where someone perceives they are providing more
support than they receive, a delayed reciprocation model, and a secondary reciprocation
model where issues of reciprocity are examined (Hupcey, 1998). These models include
the examination of personality, social obligation, and cultural and social roles.

27
Additionally, other factors identified by Cohen and Syme (1985) include such things as
the type of support provided in terms of matching the support to the need at the
appropriate time and for the proper length of time, perceptions of the support received
versus what was actually provided, negative support such as non-reciprocity, and
recipient and provider characteristics. For example, there are many personal
characteristics associated with both recipients and providers of support that influence the
potential availability of support and whether one requests, gives, needs or receives
support. These personal characteristics include those traits or features of the individual
which are thought to have a determining influence on both the structure and function of
an individual's support network (Antonucci, 1985). Hupceys (1998) summary of the
social support research studies from 1993 to 1996 revealed that what was measured has
remained unchanged. Social support was measured by examining the type of social
support and/or social network characteristics but only in terms of the recipient's
perceptions.

Provider-recipient interactions and the other identified facets of social

support that were discussed theoretically were rarely included in this past research.
In their review of research examining coping in adolescence, Boldero and Fallon
(1995) found that asking for help with a problem, as a social support strategy, was an
adaptive mode of coping with concerns or problems for adolescents. Many authors agree
that when adolescents seek help they prefer to consult their peers rather than adults
particularly for interpersonal problems (Boldero & Fallon, 1995; Carr & Saunders, 1980;
Cowie, 1999; de Rosenroll & Dey, 1990; Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993; Morey & Miller,
1993; Shiner, 1999; Tishby, et al., 2001). However, as in adult studies, models used to
examine the phenomena of social support in adolescents have relied predominantly on
provider models as described by Abu-Rasain and Williams (1999), Backett-Milburn and
Wilson (2000), Morey and Miller (1993), Price and Jones (2001), and Varenhorst (1992).

28
There is a plethora of research to identify and support the notion that young
people helping each other is a valuable source of social support which benefits young
people. For example, a number of adolescent programs have been evaluated as having
positive outcomes for the providers and recipients. Examples of these programs are
prevention of youth suicide (Morrison, 1987), drug education and prevention (Shiner,
1999), bullying, mediation/conflict resolution (Cowie, 1999; Osterman, Bjorkqvist,
Lagerspetz, Landau, Fraczek, & Pastorelli, 1997), befriending (Demetriades, 1996;
Ortega & del Rey, 1999), mentoring (Frisz, 1999; Topping & Ehly, 1998) and
counselling-based programs (Cartwright, 1996; Naylor, 2000). However, studies which
examine structural constraints in the environment which inhibit social support being used
by adolescents as a resource, are absent. Similarly, studies of social support with
adolescents which explore how recipient and provider characteristics, behaviours,
reciprocity and relationship characteristics enhance, or constrain access to resources in the
environment, are scarce and of limited value.
Theories of Prosocial Behaviour
It is well documented in the literature that when confronted with personal,
stressful, or troubling issues, young people have varying expectations about whether or
not friends and professional counsellors have the ability to provide relief, advice, and
assistance (Carr, 1998; Gibson-Cline, 1996; Papini & Farmer, 1990). For example,
disclosure between adolescents and their parents is often restricted to discussion of daily
issues and they are more likely to share age related concerns with peers (Noller, Feeney,
& Peterson, 2001; Papini & Farmer, 1990; Rafaelli & Duckett, 1989). It is clear that
social support within the adolescent peer group is a valuable environmental resource for
adolescents.

29
Social support can be reflected in behaviours that are intended to benefit others
such as a tendency to think about the welfare and rights of other people, to feel concern
and empathy for them, and to act in a way that benefits them. This description matches
Penner and Finkelstein's (1998) definition of the prosocial personality. In their definition,
altruism is described as the essence of the prosocial personality.

However, they

acknowledge that other modes of prosocial behaviour are evident such as behaviour
motivated by the expectation of social rewards. Today there is a body of research
indicating that there are individual differences in prosocial behaviour in specific settings
or at particular points in time (Eisenberg, et al., 1999).
Eisenberg et al. (1999) in their review of the literature suggest that prosocial
behaviour and empathy-related responding have a genetic basis, that prosocial behaviour
and empathy are linked to temperamental predispositions, and that environmental factors
such as parental child rearing practice and secure attachment contribute to the
development of a prosocial disposition. These authors concluded that there are individual
differences in prosocial dispositions, that these differences are consistent over time, and
that they emerge in adolescents as behaviours which reflect an understanding of higherlevel moral principles and sophisticated perspective-taking abilities. This would suggest
that some young people might be potentially more able to provide social support to their
peers than others. However, Johnson and Johnson (2002) suggest that adolescents can be
taught how to build and maintain interdependent relationships within which individuals
will receive the help and assistance they need to cope effectively with the adversity in
their lives. To do this, adolescents need to be taught how to establish a network of
relationships and how to manage conflicts constructively. Training needs to promote the
values underlying mutual support and assistance.

30
Published research on prosocial behaviour has typically emphasised overt
behaviours such as sharing, helping, or volunteering (Eberley & Montemayor, 1998;
Miller, 1991; Roker, Player & Coleman, 1999).

The restricted range of prosocial

behaviours addressed in research may be limiting our understanding of the development


of socially significant prosocial behaviours. Eberley and Montmayor (1998) contend that
studying prosocial behaviour from a relational perspective is different from previous
approaches. Most importantly the focus of investigation when studying behaviours from
a relational perspective is on prosocial behaviour that occurs between members in a
relationship. Because the occurrence of prosocial behaviour is considered to be a function
of relationship qualities, the provider and the recipient of the behaviour become an
important consideration.

Research examining relational prosocial behaviour in

adolescence has relied on measures of these behaviours in contrived settings (Bergin,


Talley & Hamer, 2003). Although researchers have raised concerns about the validity of
such measures (Mussen, 1977) this line of research has continued (e.g. Burford, Foley,
Rollins, & Rosario, 1996; Eisenberg, Carlo, Murphy, & Van court, 1995; Froming,
Nasby, & McManus, 1998; Litvack-Miller, McDougall, & Romney, 1997; Moore, Barresi
& Thomson, 1998; Roberts & Strayer, 1996).
Because of the paucity of descriptive data on adolescent prosocial behaviour,
Bergin, Talley and Hamer (2003) examined a wide range of naturally occurring prosocial
behaviours in a non-invasive way so as not to alter the nature of the interactions or
misinterpret them. Bergin et al. used focus groups to obtain descriptions of authentic
prosocial behaviours of adolescents in their natural settings as perceived and described by
young people. Their study found that the relational prosocial behaviours of providing
emotional support, complementing and encouraging others, keeping confidences and
remaining calm were behaviours identified and valued by young people. As well the

31
overt prosocial behaviours of helping others develop skills, providing physical assistance,
sharing, and providing community service, were also valued by young people. While this
study showed that these behaviours were identified and valued by young people, the study
does not go far enough to capture the dimensions of recipient and provider characteristics,
conversational behaviours, reciprocity, and relationship characteristics, of social support.
Inclusion of relational prosocial behaviours in research, particularly when investigating
adolescent social connections and provision of emotional and psychological support,
would be useful. How these dimensions of relational prosocial behaviour influence the
availability and accessibility of social support, as a resource in the young persons
environment, also needs to be examined.
Social support in the form of conversational prosocial behaviours is known to
enhance a person's physical and psychological well being (Esterling, Antoni, Fletcher,
Margulies, & Schneiderman, 1994; Jourard, 1971; Papini & Farmer, 1990; Pennebaker,
1995; Raphael & Dohrenwend, 1987; Wegner, 1994). However we do not understand
how the process works. One significant study attempting to understand the process of a
socially supportive conversation between adults identified an interpersonal model as a
way of describing the process (Horowitz et al., 2001). These researchers explored the
dimensions of "communion" (warmth, friendliness, hostility) and "agency" (control,
power, influence) as central components of a conversation of a prosocial nature.
Additionally, they proposed that whether a listener responds communally or agentically
reflects the type of problem being presented by the speaker and the goals of the speaker.
Their results highlighted the difference between communion and agency in supportive
reactions and the effects of these differing supportive reactions in conversation. They
acknowledge that naturally occurring socially supportive conversations would include
other responses that were neither communal nor agentic and that the participants in their

32
study may have been particularly prone to use agentic responses because of the demand
characteristics of the context. Horowitz et al. (2001) recommend that attempts to research
supportive reactions clearly need to emphasise continuous dimensions rather than
categories which are discrete and dichotomous. Problems, goals and supportive reactions
vary continuously along each of the two interpersonal dimensions identified by Horowitz
et al. (2001). Shades of grey exist along each dimension to produce various blends of
agency and communion. For example, a linguistic convention can transform agentic
responses such as "tell your mother about it" into more communal responses such as "I
wonder if it would help to tell your mother about it?
While the interpersonal model is incomplete as a model for guiding research on
relational prosocial behaviours, it does provide a guide to exploring specific relational and
conversational behaviours in socially supportive conversations among adolescents,
particularly those aimed at social connection and provision of emotional and
psychological support.
Adolescent Communication Processes and Patterns
Studies examining adolescent conversations reflecting relational prosocial
behaviours aimed at social connection and provision of emotional and psychological
support are scarce. Studies examining conversations and relationships between
adolescents and adults have discovered differences in the way conversations occur
between adolescents and their parents and other adults as compared with communication
with peers (Rotenberg, 1995; Worcel, Shields, & Paterson, 1999). In their discussion of
dyadic interactions between adolescents and adults, Readdick and Mullis (1997) found
that interpersonal contacts during adolescence could be differentiated when comparing
contacts between adolescents and their age mates, and contacts between adolescents and
their

parents.

Noller

and

Callan

(1990)

attempted

to

identify

particular

33
microconversational skills used by adolescents that elicit specific attributes such as
empathy, accuracy in encoding and decoding of non-verbal communication, and
communication skills when communicating in their families and with their parents.
Turkstra (2001) found significant differences in the speaker and listener behaviours in
conversations between adolescent peers and conversations between a young person and a
professional adult (speech pathologist). These differences included physical behaviours
such as establishing eye contact, nodding, and turning towards the listener, and
conversational behaviours such as minimal responses or asking questions.

Turkstra

suggested that these differences were related to a perceived difference in status and role
between young people and professionals.
Further examination of adolescent conversations by Reed, Macleod and
McAllister (1999) identified the importance of selected communication skills when young
people are talking with peers. The rank ordering of the skills from most to least important
were: taking the conversational partners perspective, interpreting so-called tone,
conveying messages tactfully, appropriate turn taking, using appropriate vocal-tone,
establishing and maintaining eye contact, comprehending non-verbal communication,
employing conversational clarification and repair strategies, selecting conversational
topics, presenting different points of view or thoughts logically, relating narratives,
comprehending verbal humour, maintaining topics, and using appropriate adolescent
slang.
Additionally, according to Beaumont (1996), there are differences in relationship
style in general conversations between adolescent peers compared with adolescents and
adults. Adolescents conversational characteristics with friends tend to involve a fastpaced conversational style which includes frequent interruptions, overlaps, and
simultaneous speech. Such conversational behaviours are rated as significantly more

34
friendly by adolescents than conversations with a maternal parent. Reed et al. (1999)
explored the importance assigned by adolescents to specific communication skills when
talking to peers and talking to adult teachers. These authors concluded that it is reasonable
to think that the way adolescents adapt their communication characteristics to either
adults or peers is likely to influence what those partners think about them and how
successful their relationships are with those people. Young et al. (1999) described how
the egalitarian and reciprocal aspect of peer relationships contrasts sharply with the
hierarchical parent-adolescent relationship and that reciprocity in adolescent peer
relationships allows autonomy to develop through such behaviours as co-operation,
collaboration, intimacy, sharing, affording the parties mutual acceptance and respect.
These conversational and relational behaviours characterise peer relationships and serve
to facilitate adolescent interactions and thus their socialisation.
A number of authors (Beaumont, 1996; Chan, 2001; Rotenberg, 1995; Sullivan,
1953; Worcel et al., 1999) point out that it is well known that personal disclosure by
adolescents occurs in close friendship relationships where the young person feels
accepted, trusted, and validated. Additionally, many authors have identified
conversational and relational differences in the way adolescents communicate between
their peers and between adolescents and their parents (Noller, Feeney, & Peterson, 2001;
Papini & Farmer, 1990; Rafaelli & Duckett, 1989; Readdick & Mullis, 1997; Rotenberg,
1995; Turkstra, 2001; Worcel et al., 1999; Young et al., 1999). In particular,
communication barriers between parents and teenagers have been identified by the
American Academy of Child Psychiatry as a situation most frequently associated with
adolescent suicide (Peach & Reddick, 1991). These findings suggest that personal
disclosure by adolescents, which lead to supportive reactions by their peers, is more likely
to occur in adolescent peer conversations than in conversations with parents or other

35
adults. Buhrmester (1990) noted that peer friendships create an environment where
personal disclosure leads to social validation, social control, self-clarification, selfexpression, and relationship development, and that adolescent friendships became
increasingly intimate based on mutual understanding, disclosure, empathy, and trust. He
suggests that making and keeping friends in adolescence involves close relationship
competencies, including conversational skills and providing emotional support. Young et
al. (1999) propose that the nature of adolescent peer-peer relationships provides a nonthreatening atmosphere in which adolescents experience the freedom to explore ideas and
options. They further suggest that in the adolescent peer conversation goals are realised
through equitable exchanges. The quality of the relationship and the peers common
circumstances allows them to be mutually empathic and supportive.
Chan (2001) discovered that adolescents talk about affective and private events
through 'matching' and sharing similar experiences and subsequently rate relationships
high in friendship and rapport. Her research in peer collaboration and discourse patterns
in learning situations indicated the importance of collaborative explanation in adolescent
conversation. She extended existing research in characterising differing conversational
patterns that deepen or suppress students communication and found that the use of the
components of problem recognition, question formulation and explanation, promoted peer
collaboration in conversation. This process seemed particularly important in collaborative
conceptual change as peers scaffolded each other to construct explanations and generate
alternative hypotheses.
Young et al. (1999) conducted research to identify the joint actions that adolescent
peers undertake in their career-related conversations. The authors define joint action in
general terms as the intentional behaviour of people attempting to realise a common goal
or engage in a common process. They view conversation as a joint action because it is not

36
dictated by one individual's intentions or actions but results from the interactions between
people. The results of this study identified that the goals of career related conversations
were embedded in an identity process called self-refinement. The process of selfrefinement was prevalent throughout the adolescents conversations. Through the very
act of conversation, adolescents defined their individual position and took ownership of
their beliefs and values. The interactive nature of conversation also allowed them to reexamine and adjust their respective positions. The study of Young et al. (1999) has
implications for examining the joint action process in conversations between adolescents
where emotional and psychological support is provided and received.
The contribution of the Current Project to the Literature
Prosocial Behaviour
Thoits (1995) summary of the reviewed research in stress, coping and social
support suggests that in the area of social support we need further research on the
relationships between structural and functional dimensions of social support, the social
distributions of perceived and received support, the way in which support influences
personality resources (and vice versa), the conditions under which supportive assistance is
mobilised versus eroded, and the kinds of support which optimally match individual's
needs for help. Until supportive processes and intervening mechanisms are better
understood the goal of designing more effective interventions for adolescents coping with
stress will be constrained. The current project attempts to address these issues by
developing and evaluating an intervention emphasising social support within an
adolescent population. Despite the traditional focus on appraisal based theories of dealing
with stress, the emergence of resource based theories are gathering interest in the research
literature. Both appraisal and resource based theories fail to answer the questions about
how young people utilise resources in the environment, and what constrains and enhances

37
access to resources. The current study provides information relevant to these questions
and as a consequence contributes to an understanding of stress and coping in young
people.
Methodological design
Methodological design has also constrained the study of social support.
Qualitative measures have been suggested as an alternative tool for examining social
support (Bergin, Talley & Hamer, 2003), as social support is not a concrete construct as it
appears in the provider models but is a dynamic process that includes interactions
between the recipient and the provider. The present research provides an opportunity to
challenge the historical leanings in adolescent research which have focused on variable
centred approaches. Recent trends in adolescent research suggest that social/relational
behaviours should be addressed in research with an emphasis on positive psychosocial
behaviours and outcomes for youth combining methodological approaches that focus on a
greater appreciation for emancipatory qualitative data analysis. Therefore the current
project will examine social support using an alternative methodological model.
Social Support
The research to date indicates that a focus on overt prosocial behaviours has
restricted our understanding of socially significant social behaviours (Bergin, et al.,
2003). It is expected that the current project, situated within an adolescent population,
could reveal significantly valuable information regarding socially supportive behaviours
among adolescents. To date there are no studies which explore how relational prosocial
behaviours in the form of conversational social support, occurs in the adolescent
population. Studies which explore the process of adolescent conversations aimed at social
connection with the goal of providing emotional and psychological support, are
inadequate. Distinct adolescent conversational processes have been found to impact on a

38
young persons perception of status and role in conversations with others (Turkstra,
2001), and influence the young persons perceptions of friendliness, trust, equality,
mutual understanding and willingness to self-disclose within the relationship (Young, et
al. 1999). These adolescent conversational processes also contribute to the realisation of a
common goal and a willingness to engage in a common process of constructing
explanations and generating alternative hypotheses which contributes to collaborative
conceptual change. These findings have implications for the current project which aims
to examine the processes which occur in conversations between young people where
emotional and psychological support is provided and received. Additionally, even though
social support in the form of conversational prosocial behaviours is known to enhance a
person's physical and psychological well being (Esterling, Antoni, Fletcher, Margulies, &
Schneiderman, 1994; Jourard, 1971; Papini & Farmer, 1990; Pennebaker, 1995; Raphael
& Dohrenwend, 1987; Wegner, 1994), there are no studies attempting to understand the
process of socially supportive conversations among adolescents. By using an
interpersonal model to guide exploration of specific relational and conversational
behaviours in socially supportive conversations among adolescents the current project
will contribute to the literature on adolescent pro social behaviour.
Peer counselling is a social support resource which contributes to the social
support resource pool. A review of existing research on training and teaching adolescents
to provide emotional and psychological support to their peers is outlined in the following
chapter.

39
CHAPTER 3
Review of the Research on Peer Counselling and Peer Helper Training
Peer counselling is an activity which occurs under the umbrella term of peer
helping which covers a variety of services and activities and which occurs in various
settings with diverse populations. While peer helping can occur informally through
spontaneous prosocial behaviours, formal peer helping pursuits usually occur through
organised programs and activities and may include education and prevention programs,
mediation and conflict resolution practices, mentoring, tutoring, support groups dealing
with varying concerns (such as alcoholism), and one to one counselling. With regard to
peer helping among adolescents, programs, which first started in high schools, used group
peer counselling sessions known as rap sessions. Since then, peer programs with young
people have been initiated to address a variety of issues such as prevention of youth
suicide (Morrison, 1987), drug education and prevention (Shiner, 1999), bullying and
mediation/conflict resolution (Cowie, 1999; Osterman, et al., 1997), befriending
(Demetriades, 1996; Ortega & del Rey, 1999), mentoring (Frisz, 1999; Topping & Ehly,
1998) and face to face counselling approaches (Cartwright, 1996; Naylor, 2000).
Peer counselling is one of the most useful ways in which people can help others
by listening and communicating with them, enabling them to share their troubles and feel
better (Carr, 1984). Generally peer counselling makes use of a number of listening and
communication skills which are basic counselling skills used along with other skills and
strategies. Volunteer and professional counsellors when counselling people who have
specifically sought counselling help commonly use these skills. Counselling skills are
extremely useful skills because they are generally applicable, not just in a counselling
situation, but in a wide range of life situations (Geldard & Geldard, 2003).

40
Helping others is a prosocial behaviour and Eisenberg et al. (1999) recognise that
there are individual differences in prosocial dispositions (see chapter 2). This would
suggest that generally people may have different levels of competence and success in
their ability to join with and listen to other people. Although some people are potentially
more able to help others by listening and communicating with them, it is accepted that by
learning specific counselling skills people can become more effective in helping others
(Sanders, 1996). Most training courses now emphasise the development of skills as an
important, indeed an essential element in training as a counsellor (Sanders, 1996). The
idea that helping in general, and counselling or therapy in particular could be looked at as
a set of components which could be learned was made popular by Carl Rogers (1965).
Rogers developed an approach to counselling which is now usually referred to as the
client-centred approach. His theoretical assumptions were that people were essentially
trustworthy, had positive qualities, and had the potential for understanding themselves
and resolving their own problems. Consequently, he believed that the helper did not need
to directly intervene or provide solutions as people were capable of doing this themselves.
Additionally he believed that it was important when helping other people to avoid sharing
a great deal about yourself and instead to focus on the other person's story by reflecting
and clarifying their verbal and non-verbal communication. Empathy, congruence or
genuineness, and unconditional positive regard or non-judgemental warmth and
acceptance are the "core conditions" of a helping relationship proposed by Rogers.
However while the core conditions may be necessary they are not sufficient, and while
many people who undergo counselling training already have some of the skills necessary
to help others, adding some extra elements to those skills can make helping become
maximally effective.

41
Skills can be viewed as acquired activities for performing simple or complex
acts smoothly and precisely. The idea that human beings use skills to manage
relationships is not new. For example, social skills is a term used to indicate behaviours
which can be learned and improved with practice to help develop or enhance a particular
role or relationship with others. Similarly counselling skills can be seen as a set of verbal
and non verbal behaviours used in a helping relationship to help others feel better and/or
to change their thoughts and/or their behaviours (Geldard & Geldard, 2001). Rogers
(1965) did not see counselling as just assembling a set of skills. He also believed that
counsellors must incorporate what he described as the core conditions of the helping
relationship into their way of relating as people. Egan (1994) added to Rogers ideas by
constructing a theory of helping based on the skills required at different stages in the
helping process. Rogers (1965) and Egan (1975) were responsible for developing the
idea that counselling was a skilled process and most would agree that Egan incorporates
Rogers ideas into his framework for understanding the process of helping. Some of the
specific skills used in a helping relationship include: making and maintaining contact,
structuring, active listening and communicating empathy, reflecting thoughts, behaviours
and feelings, paraphrasing, clarifying, helping the client focus on specific issues, helping
the client move on, helping the client identify goals, problem solving, decision-making,
evaluating and reviewing plans. These skills are counselling skills when they are used
intentionally to pay close attention to another person, understand the meaning of what
they are saying and deliberately communicate care and attention to the person while
trying to help them to feel better and/or to change.
Most people who use counselling skills or are engaged in counselling others
undergo training so that they can carry out their helping behaviour ethically and with
expertise. For example, many practical helpers make use of specific counselling skills

42
which they have been taught to listen and communicate in a caring and supportive way
while the person they are helping talks to them about their troubles. Similarly professional
counsellors are trained to use counselling skills in the context of well-established
therapeutic approaches. Professional counsellors often specialise in using a specific
therapeutic approach based on particular theoretical premises. There are a number of
different theoretical counselling models. Although some counselling skills are common to
several models, others are not. Some models rely on specific counselling skills, which are
not considered important in other models. Each therapeutic approach, with its underlying
theory, guides a counsellors practice and will determine what counselling skills the
counsellor will use and the kind of relationship they will have with their client. However,
as well as the therapeutic approach with its accompanying skills, other factors influence
whether the client experiences positive outcomes as a result of counselling. Factors
which have been suggested as being relevant for promoting positive change in a client
include the clients readiness for change, the clients creativity, the clients agency and
self-healing (Duncan, Hubble, & Miller, 1997; Gold, 1994; Tallman & Bohart, 1999).
Counsellor Education Models
Counselling education courses designed to train professional counsellors have
used various models. Historically, the client-centred approach that Rogers (1951)
originated in the early 1950s is one of the enduring cornerstones in the training of
counsellors. Training in the client-centred approach relies on a facilitative model. The
facilitative model emphasises training counsellors in specific facilitative conditions which
include empathy, understanding, unconditional positive regard and genuineness.
Counsellor training, according to Rogers (1957), needed to include a specific graded
training experience consisting of modelling by the supervisor, role-playing, recording of
interviews, and replaying them with the supervisor.

This was to be done within a

43
supervisor-trainee relationship that should also involve the facilitative conditions
described previously. Following on from Rogers ideas, a number of training programs
designed to produce facilitator-counsellors were developed. Three of the most widely
used and researched of these programs were Human Resources Training (Truax &
Carkhuff, 1967), Microcounselling/Micro training (Ivey, Normington, Miller, Morrill, &
Haase, 1967), and Interpersonal Process Recall (Kagan, 1980).
Several other models of training have since been used to educate counsellors:
1. McWhirter (1998) discusses an empowerment model of counsellor education
describing how the critical components of empowerment as a construct can be
infused into the counsellor education curriculum.
2. Stewart (1998) discusses the principles of problem-based learning and their
application to graduate-level counsellor education. He believes this approach
helps counsellors transfer learning to diverse situations.
3. Paisley and Benshoff (1998) provide a rationale for the use of cognitive
developmental theory as a framework for counsellor education.
4. Carty and Andrew (1993) describe a counselling course designed for registered
nurses. The course relies on an experiential learning model where the nature of
change and the process for the client and the trainee counsellor develops
dynamically. This experiential learning model provides a useful framework in
designing counsellor education courses and includes two cyclical dimensions.
Firstly grasping information through concrete experience and secondly processing
information through reflective observation and active experimentation.
5. Wiseman (1998) extended research on the process experiential approach to
training counsellors and describes a model for counsellor training anchored in the
development of experiential-humanistic approaches to counselling.

44
While the main emphasis in training within a pure nondirective client-centred
approach has been on the facilitative conditions and the learning of specific counselling
microskills, the experiential models, including the process-experiential approach
proposed by Greenberg, Rice, and Elliott (1993), focus on training counsellors to be
aware of, and direct the process of, a counselling conversation. For example, Wiseman
(1998) emphasises the identification of specific markers in the counselling conversation
in order to determine exploring the cognitive-affective response of the client.

This

process-experiential model to training counsellors stresses the importance of active,


process-directive interventions aimed at deepening the experience of the client within the
relationship between the counsellor and client and provides an alternative to the problem
management approach described by Egan. This approach is of interest when considering
training adolescent peer helpers as the skills taught have some parallels with typical
adolescent conversational and relational behaviours.
In contrast to Wisemans (1998) model, Egan (1982) added to the ideas of Rogers
by taking the work of other therapeutic approaches and constructing a theory of helping
based on the skills required at different stages in the helpful change process. Egan
suggested a three stage problem solving or problem management model. Stage one
focused on exploring and clarifying the problem. This stage incorporated the counselling
skills of active listening and communicating with the skills of identifying, acknowledging
and reflecting thoughts, behaviours and feelings, paraphrasing, and clarifying. In stage
two, Egan suggested that additional processes should be addressed where the client is
challenged so that goals can be set. Based on an action-oriented understanding of the
problem situation, stage two links and integrates individual issues and problems into
themes. This is done by using skills that show deeper understanding and help the client to
focus on specific issues, and challenge the client's views by offering new perspectives.

45
The process includes sharing the helpers experiences and feelings, and helping the client
to move on. Goal setting was central to stage two and involved helping the client identify
what they wanted to achieve. Stage three focuses on helping the client to look at possible
ways of acting in a situation to resolve problems. Developing and using action plans
through brainstorming, creative thinking, problem solving, decision-making, and planning
are the skills focused on in this stage.

Finally, evaluating consequences of actions

through record keeping, evaluation, and reviewing plans completes the counselling
process. As the client progresses through the stages proposed by Egan, the emphasis
shifts from the client's point of view and their world to a more objective perspective and
finally action in and on the client's world to cause change (Egan). Egan expresses his
understanding of the client's ability to direct their own helping process by including the
helper as a co-worker making suggestions which the client could use or not as they
choose. He referred to his model as developmental. He described it as systemic and
cumulative with the success of stage two dependent on the quality of work in stage one,
and the success of stage three dependent on the quality of work in both stages one and
two. His model emphasised a linear process with the client moving from one stage to the
next. However, he acknowledged that in practice the problem-solving process was not
linear and encouraged helpers to develop techniques that enabled them to individualise
each of its steps.
Peer Helper Training
Most peer helper training programs follow Egans model and teach many of the
skills suggested in all three stages of his model. Additionally, most peer helper training
programs are based on the assumption that teaching effective helping skills is best done in
discrete and finite blocks, each with a beginning and an end, and then integrating all that

46
has been learned (Carr & Saunders, 1980; de Rosenroll, 1988; Myrick & Sorensen, 1988;
Painter, 1989; Tindall, 1989).
Training of peer helpers has typically started with a series of prepared training
sessions designed to teach a variety of skills. The skills associated with effective helping
in an adult population have been described and demystified and it has also been
demonstrated that non-professional lay people, including high school adolescents, are
capable of learning them. However, Carr (1984) recognised that once the core skills have
been reasonably mastered by young people they may feel awkward, mechanical, or
phoney, and he suggests that the training model should remain adolescent centred rather
than strictly skill centred. Similarly, Tindall (1989) describes the Carkhuff (1983) model
as appearing overly restrictive and highly regimented to someone who does not
understand the reasons behind the procedures. Baumgarten and Roffers (2003) note that
Carkhuff chooses the word technology to describe his training methods because of his
focus on the systematic, step-by-step process he takes learners through by first building
the knowledge base (facts, concepts, and principles) needed for skill development and
then delineating the skill steps from the most simple to the most complex. Carkhuff
operationalises conceptually complex terms like empathy into behavioural components,
thereby making them more amenable for skill-based training. He often refers to his
training model as a form of "human technology". Tindall (1989) suggests that trainers
explore a variety of ways to approach a single training model that can augment and
supplement the training process to meet individual needs. The adolescent peer helper
training literature fails to identify how models of training for young people have been
adapted to include these recommendations. Examination of current literature suggests that
these recommendations may never have been considered.

47
Boekaerts (2002) noted that when educating young people, recent practices
involve direct teaching being replaced or supplemented by teaching according to the
principles of social constructivism. This implies that teaching invites students to adopt a
new learner role by being active, constructive, self-regulated, and responsible learners.
Teachers share in the responsibility for learning with their students.

The research

evidence, as well as classroom observation, shows that students who are encouraged to
adopt the new learner role learn in a fundamentally different way when compared with
students who passively listen to the teacher's presentation. She suggests a move away
from traditional learning environments where students are cognitively, emotionally, and
socially dependent on their teachers to formulate their learning goals and determine which
type of interaction is allowed. Her discussion has implications when considering training
adolescents in peer counselling. Boekaerts (2002) emphasises linking the world of
instruction to the world of learning and creating powerful learning environments where
students orient toward the attainment of their own goals, where they generate thoughts,
feelings, and actions in order to obtain their goals, and where they work systematically
toward the attainment of their goals.
As well as emphasising the acquisition of specific skills, traditional peer helper
training programs also caution the trainee against using particular language and phrases
that may communicate judgemental thoughts.

In his Students companion to basic

counselling, Sanders (1996) cautions against generalising, debating or discussing,


pushing the person being helped too far or too fast, and making guesses or interpretations.
Additionally there are some communication processes that are described in the literature
on peer helper training as communication stoppers or roadblocks to communicating.
Carr and Saunders (1980), Painter (1989), Sanders (1999) and Tindall (1989) believe that
these communication stoppers or roadblocks are behaviours, which, although they appear

48
to be helpful, are actually responses that are negative in effect and retard helpful
interpersonal relationships. Consequently adolescent peer helpers have been actively
encouraged to recognise roadblocks and communication stoppers and learn new
behaviours to use in their place. Responses such as persuading, advising, recommending,
praising, supporting, sympathising, diverting, and kidding, are all described as roadblocks
and communication stoppers and have been actively discouraged.
Typical peer helper training programs emphasise the importance of the helping
relationship. Most programs devote some time to exploring the helpers values and
attitudes about difference and ethical issues of confidentiality, helper limitations and
referral to other sources, as well as sessions devoted to skill training. For example, in their
Peer Counselling Starter Kit Carr and Saunders (1980) include several sessions with
each session devoted to a particular topic. Sessions include topics related to awareness of
others and nonverbal attending, roadblocks to effective communication, listening and
empathy, empathic and reflective listening skills, questioning skills, self-disclosure,
values clarification, decision-making and problem solving, and a review of ethics,
confidentiality and referral. Myrick and Erney (1985) describe the essence of their
training program as enabling peer counsellors to use effective communications skills with
others.

Because the helping relationship centres upon verbal communication,

considerable attention is given to sessions which focus on how students should talk with
each other.

The authors focus on attentive listening, accentuating high facilitative

responses of reflecting, summarising and clarifying, providing feedback with an emphasis


on avoiding giving advice, judging or labelling, responsible decision-making, values
clarification and being accountable. Similarly, the Kids Help Line Peers Skills Program
(2003) conducts training which consists of core modules. The module of values and
attitudes explores values and how they affect us, recognition of ones own values, and

49
exercising non-judgmental behaviour. The listening and responding module includes
active listening, attending, nonverbal interaction and reflecting feelings, open-ended
questions and problem solving skills. Specific time is spent helping the participants to
recognise and respond to their own needs, recognising their strengths and limitations,
referral to other adults or professionals and setting up supportive networks.
Most programs support the view of Egan (1994) who proposes that the helping
partnership should operate as a team where the helper and the person being helped work
together. Egan suggests that it is not enough that a helper views the other person as being
an equal or a peer. He argues that the person being helped must also recognise this
equality. Also, for the helping relationship to be perceived as mutual and equal the
relationship must be interactive and consensual. If this is not the case the relationship
will be perceived as being different from a normal relationship with the helper usually
perceived as being of superior status. However, Egan supports Kanfers (1980, p.336)
statement that "the therapist serves as a consultant and expert" and concludes that
consulting is a social-influence process where the helper assists the client to work
through issues. At the same time Egan emphasises a model where the client takes selfresponsibility for the outcomes of the helping process. The focus is on the client with the
helper facilitating the use of the clients resources. Helpers influence their clients to take
responsibility for the helping process and their own lives and Egan suggests that helper
social influence and client self-responsibility are by no means contradictory terms. It can
be argued however, that executing a relationship such as this could be difficult
particularly if typical relationship characteristics of a specific population are discouraged
or denied. Egan suggests that good helpers see helping conversations as a goal-oriented,
accomplishment oriented dialogue. They respond from their clients frame of reference
because they can see the world through their clients eyes. He continues by stating "Good

50
helpers are concrete in their expressions, dealing with actual feelings and actual behaviour
rather than vague formulations, or generalities. Their speech, caring and human is also
lean and to the point" (Egan, 1982, p. 27). However, it can be strongly argued that unless
these characteristics match the helpers typical relationship and conversational
behaviours, incongruence between the helper and helper behaviours, and differences
between the helper and recipient will be obvious.
Despite the need for similarity between helper and recipient, typical models used
to train adolescent peer helpers have not successfully eliminated the problematic issues of
status difference and role attribution (de Rosenroll, 1988). Status difference and role
attribution imply that the helper is more expert or competent than the person they are
helping. As a result, the question arises as to whether using training models which teach
and encourage helping behaviours which are unfamiliar and different from the typical
relationship and conversational behaviours of a specific population are likely to
accentuate status difference and role attribution difficulties. If status difference and role
attribution are to be avoided both the helper and the person being helped need to feel
equal in their relationship. One way to accomplish this equality in the relationship would
be to design training models that use different therapeutic approaches and skills than
those currently used when training peer helpers. For example, as pointed out by
O'Connell (1998) solution focused therapy provides a framework for a collaborative
working process and relies on a theory and process which focuses on identifying strengths
and resources through collaboration in a conversational process between the helper and
the person being helped. Solution focused therapy makes use of processes which very
closely match the typical, developmentally appropriate conversational processes of
adolescents. As adolescents meet new situations, face new demands, and experience
previously unmet challenges, they continually revise and replace previously held

51
constructs so that their new constructs fit with their new experiences. These constructs or
personal interpretations of the world will not be fixed but will be revised and replaced as
new information becomes available (Kelly, 1955). Because solution focused therapy has
its roots in constructivist principles, and promotes the use of skills such as amplifying,
cheer leading, the use of specific conversational questions, joint action, collaborative
problem solving and counsellor self-disclosure, it has a better level of fit with typical
adolescent communication processes than other commonly used approaches.
It is not clear from the literature whether peer helper training programs check out
what strengths and skills volunteers bring with them to training. While the current
training approaches may have some merit, they have a possible unintended negative
aspect for groups representing differences in the community. For example, members of
groups reflecting differences in sexual orientation, gender, age, culture, ethnicity and
ability/disability may have significantly different communication and relationship
characteristics from each other which influence their relationship style and
communication patterns. Studies investigating the relationship between personality, age
and therapeutic approaches chosen by professional counsellors have discovered that there
are significant relationships between some aspects of personality and the approach chosen
(Scandell, Wlazelek & Scandell, 1997). For example, counsellors with a cognitivebehavioural orientation were more likely to be younger, low in emotional expressivity and
openness to experience, committed to rational and objective beliefs and present with a
practical problem solving nature. Psychodynamic counsellors were more likely to be
older, relatively high in emotional expressivity, committed to both rationality and
subjectivity as the basis of belief and attracted to the psychodynamic approach because of
its emphasis of ongoing self-healing. Experiential counsellors were more likely to be
committed to an intuitive and subjective basis of belief and attracted to an experiential

52
approach because of its emphasis on ongoing self-exploration (Poznanski & McClennan,
2003). This suggests that people with different personal qualities may be suited to
different types of training.
Evaluating Peer Helper Training Programs
Research into the effectiveness of adolescent peer programs in schools recognises
that they are cost-effective and comprehensive approaches for preventing alcohol and
other drug abuse, reducing campus violence, generating respect for racial and ethnic
diversity, increasing school attendance and academic performance, and improving overall
student health and self-esteem (Forouzesh, Grant, & Donnelly, 2001). The California
Association of Peer Programs (CAPP) conducted and recently published the most
comprehensive evaluation of peer programs in the USA (Forouzesh, Grant, & Donnelly,
2001). This evaluation validates the reputation of peer programs as catalysts for the
creation of healthy, safe, and productive school environments. Phase one of the
Comprehensive Evaluation of Peer Programs named The Statewide Assessment of Peer
Programs was developed to determine the status of Californias middle, intermediate,
and high school peer programs. A self-administered questionnaire was designed
containing questions regarding the number of students in the peer program, their
ethnicity, and peer program service activities. The questionnaire also ascertained the
number of years the peer program had been functioning, the counsellor-to-student ratio,
the level of support the peer program received, and the benefits of the peer program to the
community, the school, and to the students. A total of 510 schools returned the
assessment,

including

191

middle

schools,

236

high

schools,

and

73

continuation/opportunity schools. The second phase of the evaluation was designed to


collect survey data from a smaller group of schools. The goal of this phase was to
ascertain the impact of peer programs on peer program members, students served by the

53
peer program and the general school population by surveying peer program members,
students served by the peer program, peer program advisors, and school administrators.
Information gathered from the Statewide Assessment of Peer Programs indicated
that while the types of peer program organisation, operations, and services vary from one
site to another the one-to-one support programs adhered to the traditional facilitatorcounsellor model using a formally structured, skills based training process. Results
showed that the most common peer program organisational format was a daily class. A
peer program of this nature is formally structured within the academic program and is
offered as part of the academic curriculum. Generally, schools train their students in a
variety of settings: formalised classes, after-school activities, weekends and/or summer
retreat trainings. One-on-one personal support programs described training peer program
members with high level active listening and facilitation skills to provide personal support
to students who may be experiencing temporary difficulties or personal setbacks. Personal
support programs also claimed to provide an opportunity for students to take their
personal challenges to a trained peer program member and experience an effective
decision-making/problem-solving process, which they could use in dealing with future
challenges.
Information gathered from phase two of the evaluation measured the impact of
peer programs on the peer program members, students served by the peer program and the
general school population. Separate survey instruments were developed and peer helpers,
students served by the program, and school advisory bodies were asked questions related
to the impact of the peer program on the mastery of skills and reduction of behaviours. It
was determined that a benchmark of 20% or greater response by the participant survey
groups be used to indicate significant skill/ behaviour change on the three school
populations as a direct result of the peer program. Results confirmed that peer programs

54
positively impact peer program members, students served by the peer program, and the
general school population as a direct result of the peer program.
Research efforts to evaluate satisfaction with high school peer counselling
programs have been relatively unsystematic and sparse (Morey & Miller, 1993). Smaller
independent studies measuring similar parameters to those of CAPP have revealed similar
findings (Cartwright, 1996; Cowie, 1999; Demetriades, 1996; Frisz, 1999; Morrison,
1987; Naylor, 2000; Ortega & del Rey, 1999; Osterman, Bjorkqvist, Lagerspetz, Landau,
Fraczek, & Pastorelli, 1997; Shiner, 1999; Topping & Ehly, 1998). Other studies, which
evaluate adolescent peer helper programs examining different parameters, have also
identified the value of adolescent peer programs.

For example, Varenhorst (1992)

discussed the benefits to youth of peer helping as being an increased sense of


individuality, an increased ability to make friends and participation in a meaningful role
by helpers. Abu-Rasain and Williams (1999) studied the effects of peer counselling in a
boys secondary school and found a significant reduction in problems presented to the
school counsellor.

Price and Jones (2001) identified that year 11 pupils acting as

counsellors to younger students reported personal benefits for themselves through their
involvement, increased self confidence, a sense of responsibility, and feeling that they
were contributing positively to the life of the school.

Other studies generally use

provider/recipient models of evaluation and rely on feedback from peer helpers or the
recipients of help. For example when studying the effects of a peer counsellor program on
school climate, Swen (2000) relied on data from peer counsellors only. Morey and Miller
(1993) studied student satisfaction with peer counselling in high schools with results
obtained from recipients of help. Similarly Abu-Rasain and Williams (1999) relied on
data from recipients of help in focus groups and self-reports from peer counsellors. These
studies rely on data collected over periods ranging from eight months to two years.

55
Additionally in those studies that do train adolescents in facilitative counselling
microskills, the impact on the wider school environment has not been evaluated by
collecting data from all students in the wider school environment but instead has relied on
data either from the peer counsellors themselves or the direct recipients of help. It has
also been noted that it may take several years for a school wide program such as a peer
counsellor program to become institutionalised and valued as a whole school activity
(Lindsay, 1998; Smith, Daunic, Miller & Robinson, 2002).
Summary
Social support has consistently established its value as a coping resource across all
developmental life stages. However, current research has not studied conversational
social support as a dynamic process that includes the interaction between people in an
adolescent population. Historically prosocial research studies use quantitative measures
and examine limited variables in contrived settings. Horowitz et al. (2001) identified an
interpersonal model as a way of describing prosocial behaviour in the form of providing
conversational support and recommends that attempts to research supportive reactions
clearly need to emphasise continuous dimensions rather than categories which are discrete
and dichotomous. Additionally, other studies have used quantitative measures and
examined limited variables using narrow provider/recipient models when investigating
the phenomena of social support. Evaluation of adolescent peer programs mirrors the
restricted research models, design and methodology used in research examining social
support and prosocial behaviour. The findings in both the Comprehensive Evaluation of
Peer Programs (Forouzesh, et al., 2001) and smaller independent studies remain
unchanged from study to study and the findings fall short in their discussion and
recommendations about the most appropriate peer helper training for young people.

56
One of the premises upon which peer counselling is based is that through training
natural helping interactions are enhanced (Cowie, Naylor, Talamilli, Chauhan, & Smith,
2002; de Rosenroll, 1988; Carr, 1998). It is assumed that peer counselling training will
validate, formalise and positively influence those informal helping activities that are
already taking place. Although this is a generally held assumption in the literature, in
practice adolescent peer helper training programs have not shown evidence of integrating
the typical communication patterns and processes of adolescents into the training model.
In fact adolescent peer helper training programs have relied on training young people in
skills from adult counselling models and approaches. There is an absence of studies in the
peer helper training literature which include the exploration of the current repertoire of
natural helping behaviours of adolescent participants within the training program. For
training models to be maximally effective it would seem to be advantageous if the skills
taught strengthen rather than replace the normal communication skills of the helper. It is
probable that strengthening the natural helping behaviours of adolescent participants will
make it more likely that peer helpers will be perceived as being similar to the target
population. As discussed earlier, many processes and responses which form part of
normal adolescent conversation have been considered unhelpful in peer helper training
programs. However, these processes and responses may not only be acceptable to
adolescents but may also be seen as matching normal behaviour in adolescent
conversations and relationships. To discourage the use of these behaviours may interfere
with normal adolescent communication processes instead of enhancing them.
Often youth programs are initiated that offer services but do not promote youth
competence, empowerment, and involvement (Fetterman, Kafterian, &Wandersman,
1996). Shortcomings in the adolescent peer helper training literature expose how current
training models fail to incorporate current trends in the psychology of education of young

57
people. As a result, current training models are not likely to enable young people to feel
empowered, capture the interest of young people and maximise their interest in the topic
being taught, particularly in view of the potential outcome for them.
It is apparent that research in resource investment in the environment remains in
the process of establishment. By providing a peer counselling program in a school
environment, young people clearly have immediate access to social support which is
known to be a valuable resource when coping with stress. Current evaluation of
adolescent peer counsellor training intervention generally relies on information collected
from either providers or recipients with regard to the usefulness of such interventions.
Few studies examine the impact of peer counsellor interventions using information from
the wider school community in which the intervention occurs. As a consequence, little
information is known about what constrains or enhances access to and availability of
adolescent peer counsellors in their high school environment. In particular, information
gathered from students in the wider school community, with regard to the impact of peer
counsellor interventions on the total school climate are absent.
The significance of the current project lies in the development of an adolescent
peer counsellor training intervention which genuinely respects, augments and enhances
the spontaneous conversational process behaviours of young people. A focus on the
problematic issues of skill implementation, role attribution and status differences will
specifically identify the experiences of peer counsellor trainees in relation to these issues.
The current project will contribute to resource theory by examining and identifying these
issues, and by examining what constrains and what facilitates the availability of and
access to peer counselling in the adolescent environment.
The outcomes from the current project provide new insights to inform practice by
seeking answers to the following research questions:

58
1. Which conversational skills and relational behaviours used by adolescents in peer
relationships are useful in a helping conversation.
2. Which counselling microskills and/or approaches, are easy for adolescents to use,
and are useful for young people.
3. How does a new adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program affect the
participants experience as peer counsellors with regard to skill Implementation,
role attribution and status?
4. How does a new adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program, influence
the peer counsellors emotional competence, self-concept, and the coping
strategies used?
5. Does a new adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program influence peer
counsellors perceptions of the current school climate?
6. In a high school, does the introduction of a new adolescent-friendly peer
counsellor training program and exposure to trained peer counsellors influence the
way students who are not peer counsellors feel about themselves?
7. In a high school, does the introduction of a new adolescent-friendly peer
counsellor training program and exposure to trained peer counsellors influence the
coping strategies used by students who are not peer counsellors?
8. In a high school, does the introduction of a new adolescent-friendly peer
counsellor training program and exposure to trained peer counsellors influence the
perception of students who are not peer counsellors with regard to the current
school climate?

59
CHAPTER 4
Methodology
The present chapter outlines the theoretical framework and research approach to
this project. The project employs an intervention research approach within a
phenomenological and ethnographic theoretical framework. The research design which
follows a developmental process will be described, beginning with the presentation of the
theoretical framework underpinning the project and followed by a rationale for the use of
a mixed method longitudinal design. The project is divided into three studies and the
qualitative and quantitative measures used in each study will be discussed with regard to
their selection and analysis.
Theoretical Framework
Qualitative research using phenomenology enables the researcher to explore real
life experiences from the participants perspectives and to investigate specific phenomena
in detail (Rice & Ezzy, 1999). In the current project, a phenomenological approach is
used to explore the experiences of peer counsellors as part of the lived experience of
being a peer counsellor, drawing particularly upon Merleau-Pontys notion of embodied
knowing (cited in Dreyfus, 1991) and Heideggers analysis of being-in-the-world
(Heidegger, 1962). Merleau-Ponty's ideas about how our relation to the world is
transformed as we acquire skills will guide the examination of how adolescents integrate
basic counselling skills with adolescent helping behaviours. Heideggers conclusions
about what it is to be human are crucial for the human sciences. His notion of "being-inthe-world" describes all experiences as being "lived" experiences, that is, what it is to be
human experiencing the world. In this project, adolescents understandings of being a
counsellor to their peers and receiving help from their peers in a peer environment is

60
examined from the adolescents experience of what it is to be a helper, and to be helped
by peers.
Ethnography is a richly textured description of community life that allows us to
understand others on their own terms (Brodkey, 1987). Fieldwork involves a disciplined
study of what the world is like to people who see, hear, speak, think and act in ways that
are different. In ethnographic fieldwork Rather than studying people ethnography means
learning from people (Spradley, 1979, p. 3). The ethnographic framework is useful
when exploring and considering the adolescents use of social support as a resource for
dealing with stress, as it provides a lens which gives information with regard to the wider
field of adolescent social relationships. Guided by this framework the current project
attempts to uncover and examine tacit assumptions operating in a middle and senior high
school with regard to the provision, receipt and impact of prosocial behaviour among
peers. Giddens (1984) draws attention to the way in which individuals draw upon social
structures in day-to-day living. Human agents operate within particular sociocultural
milieux which contain a number of specific structural factors (rules and resources) that
stimulate and shape behaviour. In a school setting these might include the current explicit
school rules, mission statement and philosophy; for example, rules and resources that
emphasise discipline, self reliance and self-sufficiency, positive and not negative social
interaction, self reflection, academic excellence, and the value of family and friends.
Additionally, structural factors may be implied but not explicit, particularly those rules
established and approved by students in the school community. Rules about
confidentiality in friendship relationships, loyalty and betrayal issues, how to resolve
conflict, how to encourage relationships, approved ways of maintaining and dissolving
friendships are just a few. Structures operating at a macro-level need to be set alongside
human agents behaving at a micro-level. As these connections are inherently situation-

61
specific, a contextualised understanding of health-related behaviour is imperative. When
considering new directions in coping resources and coping strategies research, it has been
suggested that it may be useful to pursue issues concerning the influence of structural
constraints rather than portraying human agency as inevitable (Thoits, 1995). This is of
particular importance when studying health-related behaviours such as coping with stress.
These behaviours need to be placed within a broader perspective which examines both
structural constraints, such as the lack of availability and inaccessibility of social support,
and choices, such as using social support or other tension reduction strategies
(Thorogood, 1992). Using an ethnographic framework the current research project
considers the connections between the implied, explicit and inherent structural factors that
exist, to link the social support phenomena with peer counselling. A theoretical
framework such as ethnography, which gives information with regard to the wider field,
is useful as it provides information that is contextually sensitive with regard to the way
relationships are embedded in particular times and particular places.
Intervention Research
Intervention research focuses on research through "doing", deliberately using the
research project itself as a vehicle for implementing desired change (Reinharz, 1992).
The intervention research approach is said to further participants interests in the research
design, maximise participants control over the research process and enhance the
relationship between the researcher and participants, thereby increasing the potential
richness of the data gathered (Fryer & Feather, 1994). Such an approach is recommended
where participants are likely to be alienated from the traditional research processes.
Because of the developmental life stage characteristics, and the idiosyncratic
communication and relationship behaviours of adolescents, an intervention research

62
approach was used in the current project, as it was likely to capture the interest of young
people, particularly in view of the potential outcome for them.
Developmentally, adolescents have been identified as moving through a process of
individuation and autonomy and there are indications that it is useful to intervene in the
psychosocial development of adolescents in order to attract their interest and
commitment, and to capitalise on the particular developmental stage that they are
traversing (Frydenberg & Lewis, 2002). Similarly, the typical communication processes
of adolescents suggest that joint action and collaboration are central to adolescent
communication and problem solving (Chan, 2001; Young et al., 1999). These findings fit
with the intervention research principle of maximising participants control over the
research project (Fryer & Feather, 1994). Additionally major shifts in the psychology of
educating young people suggest a new student function of being active, collaborative,
constructive, self-regulated, and responsible, with teachers sharing the responsibility for
learning with their students (Boekaerts, 2002). This approach is in accord with
intervention research principles of enhancing the relationship between researcher and
participants.
Patton (1999) extended research by Fryer and Feather (1994) using intervention
research with a group of unemployed people. The central feature of these studies was the
provision of assistance to unemployed people which led to participants perceptions of the
intervention having positive outcomes. In both studies, quantitative and qualitative
methods were used. Similarly, the current project aims to provide training for adolescents
in peer counselling as a central feature of the research, thereby enabling them to fulfil a
specific role in the school community.

63
Project Design
Mixed Method Approach
The mixed method design of the present research provides an opportunity to
complement the historical leanings in adolescent research which have focused on variable
centred approaches. Galambos and Leadbeater (2000) point out that dramatic social
changes influence the lives of adolescents.

For example, increases in poverty,

homelessness, and unemployment, as well as cutbacks in educational, preventative, and


health services, negatively impact on young people. They suggest that at the same time,
most young people encounter adolescence better nourished and in more optimal physical
health than ever before, and are increasingly challenged by a diversity of opportunities to
support their development. As a result, the impact of social context and social change on
adolescence is receiving more attention.

The authors suggest that social/relational

behaviours should be addressed in research with adolescents, with an emphasis on


positive psychosocial behaviours and outcomes, and resilience with regard to how young
people meet these challenges. Research investigating resiliency and pathways toward
positive outcomes among adolescents has begun to reveal multiple individual, family, and
community components (Leadbeater, 1996; Way & Leadbeater, 1999). Galambos and
Leadbeater (2000) note that because social/relational behaviours are not static,
unidimensional processes but are dynamic, multidimensional processes that change over
time, that analysis used to examine adolescent development and behaviours is beginning
to move away from variable-centred approaches toward pattern-centred approaches. A
research base is accumulating on the patterns of co-occurrence of problems in
adolescence.

Pattern centred approaches to examine adolescents development and

behaviours considers the young person as consisting of multiple attributes that are
integrated into an organised system, and emphasises understanding the context,

64
prevalence, antecedents and consequences of behaviours (Magnusson & Torestad, 1993).
Advocates of the pattern centred approach argue that the adolescents' profile across a
number of indicators may carry more meaning for understanding their development and
the way they behave, than do single variables (Magnusson & Cairns, 1996). Because
methodological designs are becoming more complicated there is a growing appreciation
of the potential use of qualitative data, and in particular the combination of using both
qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. Galambos and Leadbeater (2000)
note that the adolescent study by Phinney and Devich-Navarro (1997), identifying
patterns of ethnic/American identification, incorporated and combined qualitative and
quantitative components where the scales used to measure ethnic identity validated the
qualitative analysis from interviews. Themes from the qualitative analysis were used to
provide rich descriptions of what it meant to be bicultural. Studies such as this provide
good examples of the advances that can be gained from conducting research using mixed
data collection methods. The current project makes use of both quantitative and
qualitative methods when examining adolescent peer counselling.
Some researchers (Burns & Grove, 1997; McLaughlin & Marascuilo, 1990; Morse
& Field, 1995) describe multiple sources of data in terms of triangulation, used as a
means of enhancing rigour in interpretive research.

Such a concept is related to a

positivistic assumption that an objective "truth" is awaiting discovery when correct


methodological approaches are used. In this sense, collection from different data sources
aims for corroboration of results. Other researchers (Greene, Caracelli, & Graham, 1989)
describe multiple sources of data collection in terms of providing opportunity for the
results of one method to inform another method for the purpose of increased construct
validity. However the current research is influenced by the researchers background as a
counsellor and, as a consequence, along with other researchers (e.g. Ewan & Calvert,

65
2000) is interested in the meaning of the real world to the participants. To discover the
way adolescents describe, experience and make sense of their behaviour when helping
peers, a thorough exploration and awareness of the content and context in which the
research is situated is seen to be essential.
The current project aims to explore, understand and facilitate the way adolescents
make sense of helping behaviour among themselves by using multiple data collection
methods. While the findings from multiple sources of data will provide a means of
enhancing rigour and at times provide opportunity for the results of one method to inform
another method, the aim in this project is to use a variety of data collection measures to
form diverse platforms for understanding the meaning of the real world to the participants
and thus avoid common limiting assumptions when making conclusions.
Longitudinal Design
The research question, the researchers knowledge, time, and resources and the
availability and commitment of research participants determined the most appropriate
research design for the current project. The longitudinal design provides the opportunity
to examine outcomes over time, to collect interesting data on how subjects change over
time and increases the researchers ability to address developmental issues and offer
causal interpretations (Menard, 1991). Longitudinal research can be defined simply as one
or more groups of participants studied at several points in time, generally following the
cohort to investigate developmental variables (Powers & Knapp, 1995). The data are
compared among and between participants to assess both intra-individual and interindividual change. For example, Schaie (2000) notes that identifying critical factors that
contribute to understanding the influences that affect human development have emerged
from large-scale longitudinal studies. Additionally longitudinal studies which have been
conducted for long periods of time apply powerful methods of growth curve modelling

66
that allow patterns of individual change over time to be separated from the group
averages that had previously represented the primary focus of inquiry. Generally a
prospective longitudinal design provides the researcher the opportunity to study a
phenomenon over time as a developmental process unfolds whereas, retrospective
longitudinal designs generally are employed when an event or phenomena in the present
is linked to a prior event (King 2001). The current project aimed to study the
developmental processes of peer counsellors experiences occurring over time following
peer counsellor training.
Measurement of change is the key issue in longitudinal research (Menard, 1991).
King (2001) claims that the degree of change can more readily be determined with
quantitative data than with qualitative data. However King also recognises that patterns
of change can be represented numerically from qualitative data and explanations of
change can be made with the introduction of other variables into the theoretical model.
Studies incorporating a longitudinal design using both quantitative and qualitative data
collection methods assess subjects at several different times following an intervention.
When using both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods, measurement and
respondent recall is an issue in longitudinal designs (King 2001). However respondent
recall in prospective longitudinal designs is less of a problem than in retrospective
longitudinal designs because recall is closer to, and captured as the phenomenon unfolds
(Baltese et al., 1988; Menard, 1991). In longitudinal designs the cohort serves as a
control mechanism so that differences and relationships between independent and
dependent variables can be established with more certainty. The current study is suited to
employing a prospective longitudinal design as opposed to a retrospective longitudinal
design as it aims to measure the changes in participants as they experience becoming,
and acting in the role of peer counsellor over time. The intentional inclusion of the

67
researcher into the theoretical model underpinning the research design, introduces another
variable into the theoretical model, which enables unique interpretations of change from
qualitative data to be made over time. The involvement of the researcher in the research
project will be discussed later in this chapter.
School-Researcher Relationship
An important aspect of the design of this project is the relationship between the
school and researcher, and participants and the researcher. In this project the link between
the school and researcher addresses a concern in the literature regarding gaps between
research and practice, and provides support for the intervention research approach and the
importance of collaboration in university-community partnerships in research. Galambos
and Leadbeater (2000) note that researchers who investigate issues relevant to youth
programming and policy put a lot of effort into establishing informal short-lived
collaborations with schools or community programs. Often results are not always reported
back to collaborators and are usually only published in academic journals.

Where

programs are used as a result of access to research findings, they often fail to incorporate
evidence of successful strategies and knowledge about the changing contexts in which
children and youth are developing. Instead, they apply adult models to prevention and
treatment programs despite lack of outcome data to support their effectiveness with
adolescents (Kellam & Anthony, 1998). Often, youth programs are initiated that offer
services but do not promote youth competence, empowerment, and involvement
(Fetterman, Kafterian, & Wandersman, 1996). Many programs fail to address contextual
factors that limit or enhance youth well-being (Leadbeater & Way, 1996).
The intervention research approach used in this project will extend the efficacy of
action research models which have begun to emerge. As with a number of action research
models (Lerner at & Miller, 1993; Small, 1996; Weinberg & Erickson, 1996) the

68
proposed project specifies the principles for collaboration between the researcher,
students and the school. Without researcher-school collaboration the relevance of the
research questions asked, commitment to program implementation, and the availability of
a context for the application of findings would be compromised. Of importance to the
collaborative process in this study were issues pertaining to the process of recruitment,
individual staff participation, risk management, researcher access to timetable allocation
in the curriculum, use of a specific location within the school, administration of pre- and
post-test measures and access to and use of the results.
Because research has often used artificial measures of prosocial behaviours in
contrived settings (Radke-Yarrow & Zahn-Waxler, 1986), the current project responded
to the call for new field approaches to determine future directions of research with
adolescents in an ecologically valid setting. In this project a denominational school was
chosen as the site for the research as it was believed that the school would welcome an
intervention that might enhance the pastoral care function of the school. It was explained
that peer counselling contributes to the climate of care and respect needed by schools to
reduce violence, vandalism, truancy, emotional problems, and school drop out. Schools
are directly and indirectly affected by student problems, worries and concerns.
Consequently, it was pointed out that the school might benefit from student helping
behaviour. The interaction between trained peer counsellors and students receiving help
can make an important contribution to the pastoral life of a school and help to build a
more open caring culture.
It was decided collaboratively that pre- and post-test data examining long-term
effects of the intervention would be collected by the school as part of a larger data
collection process using a set of standardised psychometric assessments (detailed later in
this chapter). Descriptive analysis of the data would be used by the school to support

69
implementation of future programs in the school in recognition of the resources provided
for the researcher and the research project. It was decided that the researcher would be
given a set of de-identified data for use in the research project.
A wide community base for support of a project is essential in a collaborative
process as it ensures commitment to the program implementation. Therefore, in this
project, the research was explained by the researcher initially to the executive board, then
to students at an assembly, to teachers at a staff meeting and finally through an
information package to parents so that informed consent could be obtained. Support for
the project from students was obtained by encouraging motivation and offering
incentives. For example, it was agreed that all students involved in the project would
receive a certificate of participation, on University letterhead, signed by the researcher,
and co-signed by the Head of School at the University. Additionally, participants would
receive a letter of confirmation of attendance and participation in the program, outlining
the number of hours spent in training and the content of training. It was pointed out that
this letter might be useful for students when applying for employment positions in many
career areas (Hospitality, Retail, Reception, Sales, Real Estate, etc) or when gaining entry
to specific training courses and areas of study (Medicine, Psychology, Social Work,
Occupational Therapy etc.).
Support from parents focused on outlining the benefit for their children and, in
particular, by providing reassurance with regard to management of risks. For example it
was pointed out that if other students disclosed information indicating intentions of selfharm, harm to others, issues with respect to staff or information that could have potential
to expose a criminal offence, then policies with regard to managing such risks had been
devised by school staff and the researcher that were consistent with current school
policies. In this project it was agreed that the school counsellor would play a significant

70
role by administering the assessments, moderating some focus groups, and assisting with
the analysis of data from focus group discussions.
Participant Recruitment
To promote the concept of youth empowerment and involvement, the recruitment
process was designed so that information was distributed and advertised in a school
publication rather than direct solicitation of students (Appendix A). To minimise the risk
that the potential participants would react negatively to the researcher's initial contact, the
school counsellor and pastor were available to discuss the project with students
interested in participating in the research project.
The potential participants were given an information package so that they could
decide whether or not they were interested in participating and then invited to contact the
researcher (Appendix B.). Voluntary and informed consent to participate in the program
and the focus groups was obtained from all participants before research was conducted.
Because the project involved the participation of minors, parental/guardian consent was
obtained for all participants involved in the research.
The Current Project
The current research aimed to discover those conversational skills used by
adolescents in a helping relationship with their peers and to discover which specific micro
counselling skills are useful and easy for adolescents to use. The project focused on
developing an adolescent peer counsellor training program model which integrates
specific

adolescent-friendly

counselling

microskills

with

typical

adolescent

conversational and helping behaviours. Additionally how the program affects the young
person being trained and the community in which the training and practice occurs was
examined.
An outline of the mixed method design with the research divided across three
studies is presented in Table 4.1.

71
Table 4.1
Outline of Mixed Method Design
Study
Study 1

Subjects

Measures

Purpose

Content

Volunteer

Focus Group

To identify conversational

Questions about helping

students from

discussions

skills and relational

experiences.

Grades 8, 9,

behaviours used by

(Appendix C)

10, & 11

adolescents in peer helping

relating in a

relationships and to select

peer

participants for training.

environment
Self-selected

Questionnaires,

To identify which

All self-selected students from

students from

group

counselling skills and/or

focus groups were trained in

focus group

discussions or

approaches appeal to young

issues related to understanding

discussions

individual

people and which skills

and respecting difference,

interviews and

young people can easily use.

confidentiality and referral,

researcher

and to develop a code of

reflections.

ethics. Students formed four


subgroups. Each group was
trained in a different set of
counselling microskills
selected from:
Client centred Therapy
(facilitative counselling skills,
Group A)
Reality Therapy (problem
solving skills, Group B)
Solution Focused Therapy
(solution focussed skills,
Group C) and Recognition and
enhancement of typical
adolescent helping behaviours
(Group D).

72
Study
Study 2

Subjects

Measures

Purpose

Content

Participants

Focus Groups,

To discover how an

Peer counsellors from Groups A,

from Study 1

open-ended

adolescent-friendly peer

B, C and D merge to become

surveys, and

counsellor training program,

one group. Using an intervention

researcher

affects the participants

research approach, a model of

reflections.

experience of helping (in

training developed. The training

particular with regard to

model combined typical

skill implementation, role

adolescent helping behaviours

attribution and status

with preferred counselling

differences)

microskills identified in Study 1


and selected by participants

Participants

The Self Report

To discover whether the

Quantitative measures were

from Study 1

Emotional

developed adolescent-

administered prior to subgroup

Competence

friendly peer counsellor

training in Study 1, again

Questionnaire

training program changes

immediately following the

(Schutte et al.,

peer counsellors

training, at three months

1998), The

perceptions of their

following training and finally at

Adolescent

emotional competence, the

six months following training.

Coping Scale

way peer counsellors feel

(Frydenberg &

about themselves, their

Lewis, 1993),

choice of coping strategies,

The Piers-Harris

and their perceptions of

Childrens Self-

school climate.

concept Scale
(Piers et al.,
1984),
A School
Climate Survey
(developed by
researcher)

73
Study
Study 3

Subjects

Measures

Purpose

Content

Grades 9, 10,

The Adolescent

To discover how middle and

Quantitative measures were

11 & 12

Coping Scale

senior school students feel

administered prior to subgroup

students

(Frydenberg &

about themselves, and how

training in Study 1 and again

relating in a

Lewis, 1993),

their coping strategies and

three months following the

peer

The Piers-Harris

perception of the current

intervention.

environment

Childrens Self-

school climate change as a

concept Scale

result of interacting with

(Piers et al.,

peer counsellors trained

1984),

using the adolescent-

A School

friendly peer counsellor

Climate survey

training model.

(developed by
researcher)

Study 1
In Study 1, the conversational skills and relational behaviours used by adolescents
in a helping relationship were identified using focus group discussions. The focus group
discussions were examined qualitatively to identify the skills and behaviours valued by
young people. In particular, those skills which facilitate perceived self-disclosure between
adolescents and contribute to perceived equality in the helping relationship were
identified. The counselling and peer helper literature and research, plus the findings from
these focus group discussions informed the selection of specific counselling microskills
that matched and fit with the typical behaviours identified in the discussion groups so that
training in those specific counselling microskills could be trialled.
Students self-selected from the focus groups and were trained in recognising
factors related to understanding and respecting difference, confidentiality and referral and
in establishing a code of ethics. The same students were then divided into subgroups and
training in counselling microskills was trialled in four subgroups with each subgroup
being trained in a separate and different set of specific counselling microskills.

74
Training in Subgroup A focused on reflective listening skills, the use of minimal
responses, reflection of feeling and content and summarising and clarifying responses.
Participants in Subgroup B were trained in Reality Therapy counselling skills where the
training focused on learning a five-step problem solving process of identifying options
and choices, considering consequences and selecting and trying out new behaviours.
Training in Subgroup C, Solution Focused counselling skills, focused on the use of
questions in a step-by-step process to discover a solution to a problem. In particular the
training focussed on open and closed questions, exception oriented questions,
externalising questions and questions to address future options. Participants in Subgroup
D were trained in recognition, and enhancement of typical adolescent helping skills and
behaviours.
Subgroup training identified the specific counselling skills and/or approaches
which appealed to young people and the skills that young people could easily use. In
Study 1, the training was examined qualitatively and quantitatively using focus group
discussions, researcher reflections and questionnaires (detailed later in this chapter).
Findings from Study 1 guided the development of a peer counsellor training program for
Study 2.
Study 2
The peer counsellor training program developed in Study 2 combined typical
adolescent helping behaviours with preferred counselling microskills selected by
participants in Study 1. The content of the program was guided by intervention research
literature and aimed to develop a useful model for training adolescents as peer
counsellors. Evaluating the impact of the training program on peer counsellors helping
experiences and perceptions of themselves as counsellors following training was
conducted in Study 2, longitudinally over six months.

75
Research questions in Study 2 were examined qualitatively and quantitatively
using open-ended surveys, focus group discussions, researcher reflections and
standardised measures. This study aimed to discover how the training program affected
the peer counsellors experience of helping and their perception of themselves as peer
counsellors. Qualitative measures were used with trained peer counsellors immediately
post-intervention, at three months and then six months post-intervention to discover how
a new adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program affected their experience as
peer counsellors, in particular with regard to skill implementation, role attribution and
status difference. Skill Implementation was defined by those experiences described by
peer counsellors when using counselling skills in a helping conversation. Role attribution
was defined as a function assumed by peer counsellors in a particular situation and, from
a recipients perspective, role attribution was defined as a feature expected of peer
counsellors in a particular situation. Status was defined as the peer counsellors relative
social, proficient or other position or standing which was perceived to contribute to
similarities with, or differences from, their peers.
Quantitative measures were used with trained peer counsellors to discover how a
new adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program, influenced their perceptions
of emotional competence, self-concept, coping strategies and their perceptions of the
current school climate. Measures were administered prior to subgroup training in Study 1,
immediately post-intervention in Study 2, again at three months and six months postintervention.
Study 3
Study 3 evaluated the impact of the peer counsellor training longitudinally on the
wider school community. Study 3 examined changes in the self-concept, coping strategies
and perceptions of school climate of middle and senior school students from grades 9, 10,

76
11 and 12 as a result of the intervention and interaction between trained peer counsellors
and themselves in the wider school community. These changes were examined
quantitatively. Study 3 administered quantitative measures prior to subgroup training in
Study 1 and at three months post-intervention. Table 4.2. Illustrates a timeline which
identifies the significant project milestones and the project's status at points in time.

77
Table 4.2
Timeline identifying Project Milestones
Month
May - 2003

Study
Study 1

Research Milestones
Focus group discussions. Audiotapes from focus groups transcribed and
analysed. Findings identified specific adolescent conversational skills and
relational behaviours. Selection of peer counsellors from focus groups. Training
in understanding and respecting difference, confidentiality and referral and
establishing a code of ethics.

Study 2

All pre-intervention surveys completed with peer counsellors before being


divided into subgroups (T1).

June/July

Study 3

All pre-intervention surveys completed with Grades 9, 10, 11 & 12 students (T1).

Study 1

Peer counsellors divided into four subgroups and each group trained in a different
set of skills; facilitative counselling skills, problem-solving skills, solution
focussed skills and enhancement of adolescents helping behaviours completed.
Subgroup training examined qualitatively and quantitatively using, focus group
discussions, questionnaires and researcher reflections. Subgroup training analysed
and counselling microskills preferred by peer counsellors identified.

August/Sept/Oct.

Study 2

Findings from Study 1, contribute to the outline of an adolescent-friendly peer


counsellor training program intervention. A training program, guided by an
intervention research framework, was developed and conducted over 12-weeks.

Nov

Study 2

Immediate post-intervention
The adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program intervention was
examined with peer counsellors qualitatively, using focus group discussions,
open-ended surveys, and researcher reflections. Data analysed
(T2) Post-intervention standardised surveys administered.

March - 2004

Study 2

Three month follow-up


The adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program intervention was
examined with peer counsellors qualitatively, using focus group discussion, openended surveys and researcher reflections. Data analysed
(T3) Post-intervention standardised surveys administered.

Study 3

(T3) Post-intervention surveys administered with wider school community of


Grades 9, 10, 11 & 12 students.

June

Study 2

Six month follow-up


The adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program intervention examined
qualitatively with peer counsellors using focus group discussion, open-ended
surveys, and researcher reflections. Data analysed
(T4). Post-intervention standardised surveys administered.

78
Measures
Qualitative Measures
Focus Groups. When discussing the merits of focus groups, Morgan (1997) points
out that they can be used as a tool in the design of an intervention and to understand
experiences and responses of program participants. Additionally, Morgan mentions that
focus groups can be used, together with other sources of data to help generate hypotheses,
and that they are useful as an aid when constructing surveys. When constructing surveys
focus groups help to collect information which contribute to the formation of domains
that need to be examined, determining the dimensions that make up the domains or
providing item wordings that effectively convey the researchers intent to the survey
respondents. Finally, Morgan indicates that focus groups are useful for preliminary or
exploratory research, and for follow-up data collection pursuing "exploratory" aspects of
the analysis
Focus groups were used as a self-contained method in Study 1 where they served
as the principal source of data. They were also used as a supplementary source of data in
Study 2. In this project, focus groups were used as part of the mixed method design that
combined two or more means of gathering data in which no one primary method
determined the use of the others. In Study 2, focus groups added to the data gathered
through other qualitative methods which included open-ended surveys, and researcher
reflections. The goal was to use each method so that it contributed something unique to
the understanding of the phenomenon under study.
Recommendations with regard to focus group composition stress the importance
of homogeneity.

Homogeneity allows for more free-flowing conversations among

participants within the group (Morgan, 1997).

Decisions regarding advantages and

disadvantages in segmented versus homogenous groups are important. Among the most

79
common background variables that are considered when deciding to run homogenous
versus segmented groups with adolescents are sex and age. For example, in their study
investigating adolescents perceptions of their peers prosocial behaviours, Bergin, et al.
(2003) preferred to use focus groups segregated by gender. They believed that gender
composition affects communication in an adolescent group with boys exhibiting a more
domineering and restricting interaction style that inhibits others. They described girls as
exhibiting a more collaborative interactional style that enables others to express
agreement. They believed that these differences might result in girls having less influence
and less opportunity to talk in mixed groups. However the age range of their participant
sample might account for gender differences in their study. Participants were aged
between 11 and 13 years old, an age range where same-sex peer groups provide markedly
different socialisation experiences (Maccoby, 1990, 1998) because gender segregation is
still prevalent in this age group (Richards, Crowe, Larsson, & Swarr, 1998). Additionally,
according to a study by Furman and Buhrmester (1992), where they compared findings
from their study, investigating age and sex differences in perceptions of personal
relationships with other research (Furman & Robbins, 1985; Gavin & Furman, 1989), the
importance of distinguishing between the functions served by friendships and peer groups
and age and sex differences was highlighted. The findings of Maccoby (1990, 1998),
Richards et al., (1998) and Furman and Buhrmester (1992), mitigate the importance of
gender segregation in focus groups where the age of participants is mixed. Finally,
Morgan (1997) suggests that decisions with regard to group composition should also rely
on the basic criterion of whether a particular group of participants can comfortably
discuss the topic in ways that will be useful to the researcher. In the current project
varied gender focus groups in Study 1 were used (three same gender and five mixed
gender) with mixed age. It is believed that the topic of discussion which focused

80
specifically on the functional relationships of adolescents helping behaviours with their
peers was a topic that could comfortably be discussed by a group of young people with
mixed age and gender.
The degree to which each participant can contribute to the group is a major factor
in decisions about group size. Focus group projects most often have six to ten participants
per group and have a total of three to five groups per project (Morgan, 1997). In Study 1
of the current project, eight focus group discussion sessions were conducted with an
average of six to seven participants in each group. Because participants volunteered for
the project they were expected to have high levels of interest and involvement with the
topic of peer helping. With such high interest it was important to keep group size small so
that an active discussion could occur and discussions could be more easily managed. This
is consistent with other studies using focus groups with adolescents. For example Bergin
et al. (2003) conducted eight focus groups each with six participants and Smith et al.
(2003) conducted 11 focus groups each with six to seven participants.
The value of using focus groups in this project rather than observation is that
social psychological topics such as beliefs, attitudes and values of peer helping behaviour
are difficult to observe, not because they are less important but, because they are less well
suited to observation. Additionally in this study the school setting, where students are
encouraged to discuss many topics of interest, paralleled the social setting of the focus
group. In fact both the educational process in high schools and the social peer group
behaviour of adolescents fits well with the use of focus group discussions.
Where information regarding young peoples perceptions about a specific
behaviour such as helping is required, focus groups provide the researcher with the
opportunity to guide the discussion around specific parameters.

Similarly, where

information regarding young peoples perceptions about the broader issue of learning

81
helping behaviours is required, then the free-flowing discussion, which is the original
intent of the focus group, can be fostered.
According to Morgan (1997), focus groups are advantageous for topics that are
either habit-ridden or not thought out in detail. For some young people in the adolescent
age group, prosocial behaviour occurs embedded in their peer friendship behaviour. It is
unlikely that they would have thought very much about what it is that they do when they
take part in conversational helping behaviour or how they do it. In the current study it
was thought that the focus group discussion was likely to provide an opportunity for
group members to prompt each other.
Standardisation and researcher involvement in focus groups determine how
structured the group discussion will be. Standardisation refers to whether the same
questions are asked of every group and researcher involvement refers to the management
of the group dynamics and the extent to which the researcher controls the discussion or
allows free participation. In Study 1 a compromise between more structured and less
structured approaches, called the funnel approach (Morgan, 1997), was used. The
"funnel" strategy allows the group to begin with a less structured approach that
emphasises free discussion and moves toward a more structured discussion of specific
questions. Specific questions were used in focus group discussions in Study 1 to ensure
that all the groups discussed the issues in a relatively comparable way and to aid analysis
by ensuring consistent comparisons across all the groups (Appendix C). The goal of
focus group discussions in Study 1 was to identify information which would guide the
development of Study 2.
Analysis of Focus Groups. The process of analysing the focus groups used in both
Study 1 and 2 in this project followed Kruegers (1998) method of focus group analysis.
The principal means of capturing observations in focus groups is through audio taping

82
then transcribing while extracting descriptions. Most commonly, numerical coding is used
to identify type of description, the number of times a particular description was
mentioned, and whether the description was provided by an individual or was a group
effort. However, Krueger presented a phenomenological methodology to identify and
organise themes without numerical coding. Krueger's (1998) content analysis continuum
model suggests that verbatim transcripts from audiotapes can be examined to extract
words, concepts, and descriptions and combined so that those that are conceptually
similar are grouped together. Interpreting which topics should receive the most emphasis
from the focus group transcripts is usually decided by how many groups mentioned the
topic, how many people within each of the groups mentioned the topic and how much
energy and enthusiasm the topic generated among the participants. These three factors
are known as "group-to-group validation".

For any specific topic, group-to-group

validation means that whenever a topic comes up, it generates a consistent level of energy
among participants across all the groups. Themes resulting from descriptions reflecting
the range and diversity of comments in the group can also be identified. Categories can
then be created that are conceptually obvious with regard to the research interest.
In the current project verbatim transcripts from the focus group discussions
conducted in Studies 1 and 2 were analysed using Krueger's (1998) content analysis
methodology. The researcher, school counsellor and research assistant systematically
examined each transcript for the presence, meanings and relationships of words and
concepts that were descriptive or interpretive of helping experiences or training.
Additionally, inferences were made about the messages within the texts with regard to the
phenomena of helping and being helped. The number of times each helping experience
description or issue with regard to training was mentioned by an individual in each group
was recorded and recordings included supporting statements made by other participants in

83
the group that referred to the same description or were considered an elaboration of the
original statement. Selecting which descriptions should receive consideration from the
focus group transcripts was decided by group-to-group validation (Krueger, 1998).
In Study 1, responses from focus group discussions describing the way young
people help each other were analysed using Kruegers (1998) content analysis
methodology. Categories resulting from descriptions reflecting the phenomenon of
helping and being helped were identified. In Study 2, responses from focus group
discussions describing the peer counsellors experience of training and helping
experiences were combined with data collected from open-ended surveys and was
organised into categories. Data was further reduced and organised into themes then
recorded under headings to answer the research question.
Researcher Reflections. There is a valid place in a qualitative study for openly
recognising the subjectivity of the researcher in the collection, interpretation and analysis
of the data and for the more intimate interaction that may occur between the researcher
and the participants in the study (Lippi, 2001; Schutz, 1994; Webb, 1989). In this project,
it was assumed that the researcher could contribute data as well as analysis and that this
would make the work richer. Because the researchers interest in the current project
emerged as a result of experience and practice as a counsellor, it was strongly believed
that the researcher could draw on a wealth of relevant data from that personal experience.
To exclude the researchers contribution from the research would have ignored the
researchers role in data gathering, selection, analysis and theory generation as a
practitioner. It was decided that this data should be considered a part of the research.
Cunninghams (1988) contextual locating approach, in which the researcher is at the
centre of the research, lends support for this decision.

84
Cunninghams (1988) contextual locating method describes a process by which
one "feeds into and off the context within which one operates" (p. 166). Contextual
locating facilitates the linking and weaving together of insight developed in a number of
different ways. Contextual locating enables the researcher to explore the experience of
others and to directly relate it to their own experience in a systematic way. It can be
argued that contextual locating is about discerning themes in the data (Tesch, 1995) and
can, therefore, be situated quite comfortably next to phenomenology.
The utilisation of an ethnographic framework gives the researcher access to the
context in which the phenomena is occurring, open dialogue with those actively engaged
in the phenomena, and use of the researchers understanding of the study topic.
Uncovering meaning in data requires consideration of the context in which the
phenomena is occurring. The ethnographic framework supporting this project
acknowledges the use of the researcher as a data-gathering tool (Glaser & Strauss, 1966;
Wilde, 1992). The researcher has an opportunity to view the research findings through a
personal and professional theoretical lens rather than being "severed" from the
participants original intentions. To achieve these functions in this project the researcher
assumed the role as moderator of focus group discussions, supervisor and program
trainer. These roles allowed the researcher to be an interactive part of the intervention
research process, both reflexive and reflective in nature, offering exciting possibilities for
the researcher as part of the study.
Analysis of researcher reflections. The researchers reflections and field notes
were recorded in a journal and were used to reflect upon data gathered from training
sessions, focus group discussions, and open-ended surveys. In this project, it was assumed
that the researcher could contribute data as well as analysis by viewing the research

85
findings through a personal and professional theoretical lens and then linking and
weaving together insights developed in a number of different ways.
Open-ended surveys. Open-ended surveys can be used to summarise participants
views at the end of an exercise or session or, following a period of time where specific
activity has taken place (Morgan, 1997). Questions are open and can specifically target
the respondents experience of the recent events or exercise. In Study 2 of the current
project, peer counsellors were given the opportunity both during and after the training
program to use open-ended surveys to allow them to identify and then explain in their
own words their experiences. Open-ended surveys can also be used as a stimulus for
discussion (Morgan, 1997). The questions used are open, and act as prompts to invite
respondents to share their perceptions, thoughts, values and beliefs with others.
The questions included in open-ended surveys are generally worded so that
responses that describe emotional experiences as well as reflective thoughts about the
experience can be generated. Open-ended surveys enable the respondent to describe their
emotional responses and what they liked and disliked about their experience in their own
words. Often the questions are worded so that the respondents awareness is raised with
regard to interactions which made the experience comfortable or uncomfortable and to
enable the respondent to compare particular experiences with others. Open-ended surveys
can be used to provide some consistency with regard to the discussions in focus groups
and individual interviews without limiting responses to closed or specific information. An
example of an open-ended survey used in Study 2 can be found in Appendix J.
Analysis of Open-ended surveys. In Study 2 data from open-ended surveys was
examined using emergent theme analysis (Thomson & Gurney, 2003). Thomson and
Gurney used emergent theme analysis of qualitative interview data in combination with
quantitative survey data when investigating the role of religion in the lives of immigrant

86
youth. The young peoples responses were reflected in themes. In the current project,
categories resulting from descriptions reflecting the phenomenon of helping and being
helped were identified. Both the researcher, school counsellor and research assistant
placed helping descriptions into categories before meeting to make comparisons. There
was strong agreement between them, after discussion, that determined the final categories
by combining categories that were conceptually similar. Data was further reduced and
organised into themes then recorded under the headings of skill implementation, role
attribution and status in order to answer the research question.
Quantitative measures
Questionnaires. Questionnaires provide an additional method for capturing
feedback from participants. They can be used in conjunction with each other and with
other techniques such as focus groups and open-ended surveys (Morgan, 1997). Different
types of questions can be used in questionnaires. For example, questions may be open or
closed or be worded to elicit responses which can be ranked or rated. Because the
questions are predetermined, results can be more easily analysed than the output of a
discussion.
Questionnaires were used in Study 1 and asked questions that invited participants
to identify and rate on a five point Likert scale the ease and usefulness of the specific
counselling microskills they had learned in subgroup training. (See Appendix E)
Analysis of Questionnaires. Answers to questionnaires in Study 1 were rated on a
five point Likert scale measuring the ease and usefulness of each specific counselling
microskill. Ease of use was rated as very difficult, difficult, OK, easy, or very easy. The
subjects perception of how useful each skill was in helping the other person to talk and
feel comfortable was rated very unhelpful, unhelpful, OK, useful, or very useful. Results
from the questionnaires were analysed using SPSS 11.0 to describe the data descriptively

87
as frequency distributions and to report the ease of use and usefulness for each of the
counselling microskills within each subgroup.
The Self-report Emotional Competence Questionnaire. Emotional competence has
generally been defined as the ability to identify and describe emotions, the ability to
understand emotions, and the ability to manage emotions in an effective and non
defensive manner (Ciarrochi, Chan, Caputi & Roberts, 2001; Ciarrochi, Forgas & Mayer,
2001). Bergin, et al (2003), in their study of prosocial behaviours of young adolescents,
discovered from adolescent focus groups several prosocial behaviours that fit well with
the general description of emotional competence. Several of the categories they identified
were conceptually related in that they involve emotional regulation. That is, prosocial
young adolescents are perceived by their peers as being exemplary emotional regulators
both for themselves and for their peers. These young people are described as being able
to contain their own negative emotions and display positive emotions. They also helped
to regulate the emotional state of others and they actively helped peers contain their
negative emotional states. As young people leave middle childhood they increasingly
look toward peers for emotional regulation (Furman & Buhrmester, 1992). Other studies
in prosocial research focus on the importance of the development of empathy in child and
adolescent relationships (Eisenberg & Fabes, 1998; Fabes, Eisenberg, & Miller, 1990;
Fabes, Eisenberg, Karbon, Bernzweig, Speer, & Carlo, 1994). Additionally, Eisenberg
and his colleagues work indicates that low levels of emotional negativity and the ability
to regulate the self are associated with prosocial behaviour. In their study examining the
link between emotional competence and interpersonal relations in adults, Schutte et al.
(2001) discovered that participants with high scores for emotional competence had higher
scores for empathic perspective taking and self-monitoring in social situations.

88
Additionally, participants with higher scores for emotional competence displayed more
co-operative responses toward partners and close and affectionate relationships.
Both theory and the previous research suggest a link between emotional
competence and high self esteem (Schutte, et al., 2002). Emotional competence has also
been found to be predictive of leadership in children and moderate adverse effects of life
events in a study exploring the relationship between life events and leadership in children
(Bertges, 2002).
Emotional competence can be reliably and validly measured in adolescents using
the Self-report Emotional Competence Questionnaire (Schutte, Malouff, Hall, Haggerty,
Cooper, Golden, & Dornheim, 1998). In their study Ciarrochi, Chan, and Bajgar (2000)
discovered that emotional competence was higher for females than males, and was
positively associated with skill at identifying emotional expressions, amounts of social
support, extent of satisfaction with social support, and mood management behaviour.
These relationships remained even after controlling for two constructs that potentially
overlap with emotional competence, namely self-esteem and trait anxiety.
In this project the Self-report Emotional Competence Questionnaire (Schutte, et
al., 1998) was used in Study 2 to measure changes in the way peer counsellors report their
emotional intelligence as a result of the peer counsellor training. Emotional intelligence
is best viewed as an information processing set of skills involving perception,
understanding, and management of emotional behaviour (Berkeley, Storino & Saarni,
2003). Saarni (1990) describes emotional competence as the demonstration of selfefficacy in social transactions. The Self-report Emotional Competence Questionnaire is
considered to be a useful measure in the current project because when counselling
microskills are used the skills of emotional intelligence are operationalised and reflect the
individuals emotional competence or self-efficacy in social transactions. Results from

89
The Self Report Emotional Competence Questionnaire reveal how peer counsellors judge
themselves with regard to using their emotional intelligence to create and maintain
helping relationships, which will enhance their peers well being and also enable the peer
counsellors themselves to cope with their own well-being at the same time.
The Self-report Emotional Competence Questionnaire comprises 33 selfreferencing statements and requires subjects to rate the extent to which they agree or
disagree with each statement on a five-point scale (1 = strongly disagree; 5 = strongly
agree). Items 5, 28 and 33 are negatively worded and therefore reverse scored before
analysis. Consequently a high score indicates a positive perception of emotional
intelligence. Participants are encouraged to give their honest responses by ticking the box
that best describes their attitude.
The measure has been shown to have adequate test-retest (r = 0.78) reliability
(Schutte et al., 1998). Additionally the measure has been shown to relate to observed
ratings of emotional competence (Schutte & Malouff, 2001). Initial factor analytic studies
established that all the items of the Self-report Emotional Competence Questionnaire load
significantly on a single factor (Schutte et al., 1998). Internal consistency of 0.84 for the
Self-report Emotional Competence Questionnaire was determined in a study by Ciarrochi,
Chan and Bajgar (2000) after measuring emotional intelligence in 135 male and female
adolescents aged 13 to 15 years. More recent research has established that the Self-report
Emotional Competence Questionnaire can be further broken down into two or more
factors (Ciarrochi, Chan & Bajgar, 2001; Ciarrochi, Deane & Anderson, 2002; Petrides &
Furnham, 2000). However, these studies caution the stability of these factors and
recommend confirmatory factor analysis to establish internal consistency of the subscales.
A confirmatory factor analysis was not conducted in the current project, as it was thought
that the sample size (n = 75) was not sufficiently large to produce reliable results. As a

90
consequence, the total Emotional Competence mean scores were used to measure changes
in subjects emotional competence over time.
Analysis of the Self-report Emotional Competence Questionnaire. A repeated
measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed on the data from the Self-report
Emotional Competence Questionnaire to determine whether there were significant
differences in the total scores for peer counsellors over time.
Piers-Harris Childrens Self-Concept Scale (Piers, Harris, & Herzberg 1984).
The term self-concept refers to a person's self-perceptions in relation to important aspects
of life. According to Piers (1984), although shaped by biological and cultural factors,
these perceptions are formed primarily through the interaction of the individual with the
environment and by the attitudes and behaviours of others. The author notes that these
perceptions give rise to self-evaluative attitudes and feelings which have important
organising functions and which also help to motivate behaviour.

Over time, an

individuals self-concept may change in response to environmental or developmental


changes, or as a result of changes in priorities or values. Because a peer counsellor
program in a high school changes the environment in which the young person is
interacting with others, a self-concept measure is viewed as an appropriate measure in this
project. Additionally, the training of peer counsellors and the role of peer counselling is
known to influence self-concept of peer helpers positively (Abu-Rasain & Williams,
1999; Price & Jones, 2001; Varenhorst, 1992). In this project, which uses an alternative
training model from traditional peer counsellor training models, the impact on selfconcept of both peer counsellors and students in the wider student community will
provide useful data with regard to the efficacy of the training model.
The Piers-Harris Childrens Self-Concept Scale (Piers et al., 1984) was used in
Study 2 pre- and post-training to measure changes in self-concept of peer counsellors and

91
in Study 3 to measure changes in self-concept of students in the wider student
community. The Piers-Harris Childrens Self-Concept Scale was developed as a research
instrument to provide a quantitative, self-report measure of a young persons self-concept.
Self-concept as measured by this instrument appears to be relatively stable (Piers, 1984)
however, Piers (1984) acknowledges that the young persons reference group also affects
self-concept.
This 80 item self-report questionnaire is designed to assess how children and
adolescents feel about themselves. Subjects complete the scale by responding yes or
no to the test statements. It has six subscales:
1. Behaviour (16 items); responses in this subscale indicate admission or denial of
problematic behaviour and indicate the degree to which the respondent assumes
responsibility for these problems (e.g., "I am well behaved in school," "I am
obedient at home");
2. Intellectual and school status (17 items); responses in this subscale indicate the
respondents assessment of abilities with respect to intellectual and academic
tasks, and general satisfaction with expectations (e.g., "I am smart," "I am an
important member of my class");
3. Physical appearance and attributes (13 items); responses in this subscale indicate
the respondents attitudes regarding their own physical characteristics (e.g., "my
looks bother me," "I have pleasant face");
4. Anxiety (14 items); high scores in this subscale indicate the respondents freedom
from anxiety (e.g., "I feel left out of things," and "I am often afraid", are both
reverse scored);

92
5. Popularity (12 items); responses in this subscale indicate the respondents selfreport of their popularity with classmates (e.g., "I have many friends," "my
classmates in school think I have good ideas "); and
6. Happiness and satisfaction (10 items); responses in this subscale indicate the
respondents self-report of their happiness and the ease with which they get along
and are satisfied with life (e.g., "I am cheerful," "I am a good person").
The Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale assesses self-concept in
individuals seven to 18 years of age and has been used in several studies investigating
coping and self-concept (Burroughs, Wagner, & Johnson 1997; Cohen, Kershner, &
Wehrspann, 1985; Huss, 1997; Stevens & Pihl, 1982; Tatum, 2001; Thompson, 1997),
changes in adolescents self-concept as it relates to relationships (Hopkins, 1999), and
social support, resilience and self-concept in adolescents (Carbonell, Reinherz, &
Giaconia, 1998).
The Piers-Harris Childrens Self-Concept Scale appears to be a highly reliable
instrument and the reliability figures compare favourably with other measures used to
assess personality traits in children and adolescents (Marsh, Smith, Barnes, & Butler,
1983). For example Yonker, Blixt and Dineros (1974) correlations of .42 and .40 equal
or exceed many of the correlations reported by Wiley (1974) between the Bills Index of
Adjustment and Values, and other self-concept scores. Studies of normal students in the
general population have reported stability and test-retest reliabilities. Platten and Williams
(1979, 1981) conducted two studies of the scales factorial stability, and reported testretest reliabilities. The scale was administered to white, black, and Mexican-American
students in grades 4, 5, and 6. The investigators reported reliability coefficients of .65
and .75. In a subsequent study by Shavelson and Bolus (1982), involving a test-retest

93
interval of five months, the researchers obtained a reliability coefficient of .81 for a group
of white, seventh and eighth grade students.
Analysis of Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale. In the current project,
mean scores for each of the subscales were used to measure changes in subjects selfconcept. In Study 2 a repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed
on the data from the Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale to determine whether
there were significant differences in subscale scores for peer counsellors over time.
Similarly, in Study 3 a repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed
on the data from the Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale to determine whether
there were significant differences in subscale scores for non-peer counsellor students from
grades 9, 10, and 11 over time.
Adolescent Coping Scale. Adolescent coping strategies have been used to study and
identify the behaviours adolescents find useful in managing problem or difficult
situations. It has been found that adolescents who do not cope effectively are at risk of
developing mental and physical health problems (Dixon, Heppner, & Anderson, 1991;
Waters, 1992). Adolescent social support systems are a positive influence on their health
and adolescents lacking a good social support system tend to be less healthy than
adolescents with social support (Mahon, Yarcheski, & Yarcheski, 1993). It has also been
suggested that social support and self-concept are closely connected (Cohen, 1988;
Dielman, Shope, & Butchart, 1990). Specific strategies for coping with day-to-day
stresses have been found to be significantly related to psychological adjustments. In a
study by Steward (1997) examining the influence of academic performance and
adolescents use of different coping strategies, it was found that students who had higher
GPAs tended to use social support as a means of solving problems, minimise problems by
the use of humour and used relaxation activities. Assessment of coping strategies, self-

94
esteem and the school environment have been used together in studies to examine the
contribution to and function of general risk factors and protective factors for mental
health disorders with adolescents (Steinhausen & Metzke, 2001), the individuation
process in adolescents (Lohman, 2000), and school persistence (May & Copeland, 1998).
Frydenberg (1997) suggests that there are no inherently right or wrong coping
strategies but that it is important that adolescents learn to judge circumstances as being
within their control and that they expand their repertoire to use more of the available
strategies in the appropriate context.
The Adolescent Coping Scale (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993) can be used as a
research instrument to establish the ways in which a population of students cope in
different contexts. The Adolescent Coping Scale is an 80-item checklist that identifies 18
coping strategies commonly used by adolescents. The scale consists of 79 questions
which elicit ratings of an individual's use of the 18 coping strategies, plus a final openended question. The 79 structured items are rated by the respondent using a five-point
Likert scale. The instrument has been developed for use with young people in the age
group 12 to 18 years and comprises both a Specific Form and General Form. The
Specific Form enables measurement of responses to a particular self-nominated concern.
Frydenberg and Lewis (1993) point out that it is clear that an individual's choice of
coping strategies is, to a large extent, consistent regardless of the nature of the concern.
They therefore also include a General Form which addresses how an individual copes
with concerns in general. In this project the General Form was used. The General Form
contains the same items as in the Specific Form the only difference between the forms is
in the wording of the instructions.
The items on the Adolescent Coping Scale comprise 18 different scales, each
containing between three and five items, and each reflecting a different coping response.

95
The 18 scales of the Adolescent Coping Scale have labels which reflect the construct
inherent in the items. They are recorded in Figure 4.1 along with an exemplar which
represents the most generic of the items on each respective scale.

SEEK SOCIAL SUPPORT is represented by items that indicate an inclination to share


the problem with others and enlist support in its management, e.g., talk to other

people to help me sort it out


2

FOCUS ON SOLVING THE PROBLEM is a problem-focused strategy that tackles the


problem systematically by learning about it and takes into account different points of
view or options, e.g., work at solving the problem to the best of my ability

WORK HARD AND ACHIEVE is a strategy describing commitment, ambition (achieve


well) and industry, e.g., work hard

WORRY is characterised by items that indicate a concern about the future in general
terms or more specifically concerned with happiness in the future, e.g., worry about
what is happening

INVEST IN CLOSE FRIENDS is about engaging in a particular intimate relationship,


e.g., spend more time with boy/girl friend

SEEK TO BELONG indicates a caring and concern for one's relationship with others
in general and more specifically concern with what others think, e.g., improve my

relationship with others


7

WISHFUL THINKING is characterised by items based on hope and anticipation of a


positive outcome, e.g., hope for the best

SOCIAL ACTION is about letting others know what is of concern and enlisting support
by writing petitions or organising an activity such as a rally or a meeting, e.g., join with

people who have the same concern


9

TENSION REDUCTION is characterised by items that reflect an attempt to make


oneself feel better by releasing tension, e.g., make myself feel better by taking

alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs

96
10

NOT COPE consists of items that reflect the individual's inability to deal with the
problem and the development of psychosomatic symptoms, e.g., I have no way of

dealing with the situation


11

IGNORE THE PROBLEM is characterised by items that reflect a conscious blocking


out of the problem and resignation coupled with an acceptance that there is no way of
dealing with it, e.g., ignore the problem

12

SELF-BLAME indicates that an individual sues themselves as responsible for the


concern or worry, e.g., accept that I am responsible for the problem

13

KEEP TO SELF is characterised by items that reflect the individuals withdrawal from
others and wish to keep others from knowing about concerns, e.g., keep my feelings

to myself
14

SEEK SPIRITUAL SUPPORT is characterised by items that reflect prayer and belief
in the assistance of a spiritual leader or Lord, e.g., pray for help and guidance so that

everything will be all right


15

FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE is represented by items that indicate a positive and


cheerful outlook on the current situation. This includes seeing the "bright side" of
circumstances and seeing oneself is fortunate, e.g., look on the bright side of things

and think of all that is good


16

SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP denotes the use of a professional adviser, such as a


teacher or counsellor, e.g., discuss the problem with qualified people

17

SEEK RELAXING DIVERSIONS is about relaxation in general rather than about


sport. It is characterised by items that describe leisure activities such as reading and
painting, e.g., find a way to relax, for example, listen to music, read a book, play a

musical instrument, watch TV


18

PHYSICAL RECREATION is characterised by items that relate to playing sport and


keeping fit, e.g., keep fit and healthy

Figure 4.1. The conceptual areas of coping


To record their responses, subjects indicate if the coping behaviour described was
used "a great deal", "often", "sometimes", "very little" or "doesn't apply or don't use it"
(no usage), by circling the numbers 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1 respectively. All subscales are reliable

97
with alphas ranging from .64 to .87 (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993). Item reliability was
determined by administering the questionnaire twice over a 14 day interval. Test, re-test
correlations (Pearson's product-moment) were computed.

The criteria for response

stability were satisfied. For item validity it was shown that the 18 scales have construct
validity by examining factor analyses which supported the existence of targeted
dimensions. All scales having normal distributions covering the range of raw scores
showed scale reliability.

Responses to items within scales have sufficient internal

consistency in all scales to justify the use of the separate scales (Frydenberg & Lewis,
1993).
The Adolescent Coping Scale can be scored on three factors by grouping the 18
subscales into three coping styles (Smith, Frydenberg, & Poole, 2003) which have been
called Solving the Problem, Reference to Others and Non-Productive Coping. Scoring on
these factors is adjusted so that the three factors can be directly compared with each other
in relation to the frequency of use of the styles. Higher scores indicate that the style of
coping is used a great deal whereas low scores indicate that the style of coping is not used
at all. In the current project, to interpret the degree of usage of different coping styles,
scale scores were grouped then adjusted according to the three coping styles namely;
Solving the Problem, Reference to Others and Non-Productive Coping.
1. Solving the Problem (35 items); Solving the Problem represents a style of coping
characterised by working at a problem while remaining optimistic, fit, relaxed and
socially connected. The subscales include solving problems, seek relaxing diversions,
physical recreation, seek to belong, work hard and achieve, focus on the positive,
invest in close friends and seek social support.
2. Reference to others (12 items); The Reference to Others coping style is
characterised by attending to others for support whether they are peers, professional or

98
deities. The subscales include seek spiritual support, seek professional help and social
action.
3. Non-Productive Coping (32 items); Non-productive Coping represents a
combination of non-productive avoidance strategies that have been empirically
associated with an inability to cope. The subscales include worry, wishful thinking,
not cope, ignore the problem, tension reduction, keep to self and self-blame.
In this project the Adolescent Coping Scale (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993) was used
in Study 2 to examine the way the coping strategies used by peer counsellors change as a
result of peer counsellor training and in Study 3 to examine the way the coping strategies
used by non peer counsellor students in the wider student community change as a result of
a peer counsellor training intervention.
Analysis of Adolescent Coping Scale. For the current project, the 18 coping
strategies were grouped according to the three coping styles, with the mean scores for
each of the coping styles used to measure changes. In Study 2 a repeated measures
analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed to discover whether the coping styles used
by peer counsellors significantly changed over time. Similarly in Study 3 a repeated
measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed to discover whether the coping
styles used by non peer counsellor students from grades 9, 10, and 11 changed over time.
School Climate Survey .The literature strongly suggests that there is a relationship
between students interpersonal development, well being, academic achievement, school
completion, stress and school climate (Buddeberg-Fischer, Klaghofer, & Leuthold, 2000;
Gottfredson & Hollifield, 1988; Howe, 1995; Manning & Saddlemire, 1996; Persaud &
Madak, 1992; Rojewski & Wendel, 1990; Rumburger, 1987; Whelage, 1989a, 1989b;
Whelage & Rutter, 1986). It is also agreed that interventions targeting the mental health
of high school students are likely to influence school climate (Buddeberg-Fischer, et al,

99
2000; Gottfredson & Hollifield, 1988; Howe, 1995; Manning & Saddlemire, 1996;
Persaud & Madak, 1992; Rojewski & Wendel, 1990; Rumburger, 1987; Whelage, 1989a,
1989b; Whelage & Rutter, 1986). Gottfredson and Gottfredson (2001) suggest that the
skills used in training programs come from well-known therapeutic approaches to
counselling, that the programs should rely strictly on youth roles in responding to peer
behaviour, and that the programs create a distinctive climate for interpersonal exchange if
they are to impact positively on the school climate. In the current project, the peer
counselling intervention fits comfortably with the strategies suggested by Gottfredson and
Gottfredson (2001).
Assessment of school climate can be useful as it can shed light on the impact of
particular programs or interventions. Where programs or interventions have been
implemented to influence the well being of students, pre- and post-assessment of school
climate can measure the impact of those programs or interventions on school climate.
Abu-Rasain and Williams (1999) used an individualised school climate survey pre-and
post-intervention to discover whether a peer-counselling program influenced student
perceptions of school climate. In the present project, a school climate survey was used in
Study 2 to assess the changes in the perceptions of school climate in peer helpers and in
Study 3 to assess the changes in perceptions of school climate in the wider student
community as a result of the peer counselling intervention.
Some school climate studies are based on information from a variety of sources
such as teachers, students, administration staff, principals, parents and the wider
community (Hoy, Smith, & Sweetland, 1999). However, most commonly teachers are
sought to provide perceptions of school climate (Burton & Fraser, 1994; Fisher & Grady,
1998; Gust, 1999; Johnson, 1999; Johnson & Stevens, 2001). In this project, a school
climate survey was developed and then used to evaluate the intervention. The survey

100
relied on data from students only, to assess their perceptions of their relationships with
teachers and other students, and the association of those relationships on their perceptions
of school climate will be used.
Standardised school environment instruments possess a significant degree of
validity and consistency. For example, Fisher and Fraser (1991) describe the validity and
use of the School Level Environment Questionnaire as possessing features including
consistency with the literature, salience to practising teachers, specific relevance to
schools, minimal overlap with classroom environment scales, and internal consistency.
Although there are clearly some advantages in using standardised surveys, Rojewski and
Wendel (1990) believe that standardised surveys may not be suitable for addressing the
concerns of a particular school. For example, some school climate surveys may target
specific types and severity of current climate problems, whereas others may focus on
detailed descriptions of goals, which can be formalised to improve school climate.
Additionally, many standardised school climate surveys may be inappropriate when
factors such as gender, grade level or minority population issues are targeted as they will
not give specific information about programs that need to be developed or programs that
have been used to influence school climate for a particular student group.
Rojewski and Wendel (1990) make it clear that individualised surveys offer a
flexible method of addressing specific school needs and concerns. In particular, they
argue that where the impact of a specific program, such as the peer counsellor training
program, on school climate is being assessed a standardised survey will not identify
changes in precise issues and themes which are likely to have influence on the total
school climate. As it was decided that an individualised school climate survey would be
more appropriate in the current study, it was developed by the researcher and used in
Study 2 and in Study 3. The description of the development and psychometric analysis of

101
the School Climate Survey is discussed in the following chapter (chapter 5). Following
chapter 5, reports on the three studies are provided.

102

103
CHAPTER 5
Development and Psychometric Analysis of the School Climate Survey
The School Climate Survey developed by the researcher will be discussed in this
chapter with regard to the surveys development and psychometric analysis. This survey
will be used to provided perceptions of the current school climate from trained peer
counsellors in Study 2, and from non peer counsellor students in Study 3.
School Climate
School climate refers to the general atmosphere of the school site (Krug, 1989)
and schools can be perceived as caring and supportive of students or hostile and nonsupportive. Positive school climates include factors such as trust, respect, mutual
obligation and concern for others' welfare and can have powerful effects on teacherstudent interpersonal relationships, student academic achievement and overall school
progress (Manning & Saddlemire, 1996).
Standardised School Climate Surveys
One of the most common ways of gathering information about large numbers of
people is through the use of surveys (Giacobbi, 2002a, 2002b). With regard to school
climate, standardised surveys measure elements common to institutions and often
maintain a high degree of validity and reliability (Cresswell & Fisher, 1999; Fisher &
Fraser, 1991). There are several standardised school climate surveys available: School
Climate Index (Hoy et al., 1999), Comprehensive Assessment of School Environments
(CASE) School Climate Survey (Kelley, Glover, Keefe, & Halderson, 1986), School
Climate Survey (Smith et al., 2002) School Level Environment Questionnaire (Fisher,
Fraser, & Wubbels, 1993), School Functioning Index for Middle Schools (Birnbaum,
Lytle, Perry, Murray & Story, 2003) and the Tennessee School Climate Inventory (Butler
& Alberg, 1994) to name a few.

104
Most standardised surveys rely on information from a variety of sources and adopt
a similar procedure for recording responses. For example, Hoy et al. (1999) developed
and tested a measure of high school climate from existing frameworks using the
Organisational Climate Index for high schools. The resulting measure called the School
Climate Index (SCI) captures important shared perceptions of group functioning. The
SCI consists of four subscales including collegial leadership, teacher professionalism,
academic press and community pressure. The scale consists of 42 items with responses
on a six-point Likert scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Using the School
Climate Index, Tschannen-Moran (2001) found the impact of conflict management
programs in a high school was felt school wide.

Conflict management programs

significantly correlated positively to teacher perceptions of a number of important


variables including school climate.
Standardised school environment instruments possess a significant degree of
validity and consistency. For example, when describing the validity and use of the
School Level Environment Questionnaire, Fisher and Fraser (1991) indicate that it
possesses features which include consistency with the literature, salience to practising
teachers, specific relevance to schools, minimal overlap with classroom environment
scales, and internal consistency.
Individualised School Climate Surveys
The previous chapter discussed the advantages of using standardised surveys to
measure school climate. However the discussion highlighted how standardised surveys
may be inappropriate for measuring changes on specific parameters of school climate
following an intervention aimed at improving school climate. In the current project,
where the impact of a peer counsellor training program on school climate is being
evaluated, it is clear that a standardised survey would not identify changes in specific

105
factors in the school climate which were likely to change as a result of a peer counsellor
program. In the current study it was decided that an individualised school climate survey
would be more appropriate for measuring these factors.
Most commonly, teachers are sought to provide perceptions of school climate
(Burton & Fraser, 1994; Fisher & Grady, 1998; Gust, 1999; Johnson, 1999; Johnson &
Stevens, 2001). For example Smith, Daunic, Miller, and Robinson (2002) developed a
School Climate Survey that was administered to all teachers in participating schools to
evaluate conflict resolution and peer mediation in schools. Another school climate survey,
the School Climate Index (Hoy, Hannum, & Tschannen-Moran, 1999) used by
Tschannen-Moran (2001) found that conflict management programs significantly
correlated positively to teacher perceptions of a number of variables including school
climate. However, it is difficult to find school climate surveys which rely on student
perceptions only. One is more likely to find studies where school climate surveys draw
on teacher perceptions of school climate in conjunction with student perceptions of
classroom environment (Fisher & Fraser, 1991; Fisher, Fraser & Wubbles, 1993; Fraser,
Williamson & Tobin, 1987).
Fisher and Fraser (1991) make an important distinction between school and class
environment and their research indicates a need to separate student perceptions from
teacher perceptions of environments. This separation of perceptions is essential when
investigating the impact of intervention programs on students where students use
strategies that directly target the emotional and psychological health of their peers.
Sava (2001) explored the causes and effects of teacher conflict-inducing attitudes
towards pupils and found research to support the view that pupils can be used as the final
judges of good teaching. This suggests that it might be relevant to include examination of
the relationship between student well being and student teacher interactions in an

106
assessment of school climate, in particular those interactions that involve providing
emotional or psychological support from the students perspective. Perkins, Guerin and
Schlech (1990) provide further support for using student perceptions of school climate as
they found that pupils ratings were valid enough to be considered reliable ways of
measuring interactions between two parties.
Constructing a school climate survey to identify change
Rojewski and Wendel (1990) not only support the decision to individualise a
school climate survey but also outline a process for constructing an individualised school
climate survey. Other authors (Birnbaum et al., 2003; Fisher & Fraser, 1990, 1991; Fisher
& Grady, 1998; Giacobbi, 2002; Rentoul & Fraser, 1983) advocate or have followed
similar processes. The process outlined below incorporates the recommendations of these
authors and was followed in the development of the School Climate Survey used in the
current project:
1. Consult the literature about the topic and use as a guide to understanding and
developing theories about the topic. Develop an operational definition of the
topic.
2. Identify themes or dimensions so that they can be used to form categories or
scales for the survey items. Consult relevant literature to develop and organise
themes or dimensions. Decisions to include or exclude themes will depend on
the degree of importance and applicability a theme holds for the school
environment. The decision to include or exclude a theme from a survey
instrument must be based on a school or researchers need. Once categories or
scales have been identified, develop survey items.
3. Items from similar surveys can be modified to suit the needs of the survey
being developed. New statements may also be written. Several questions can

107
guide the process of developing items. Does this item address a selected
theme? Is the item appropriate for the group you are targeting e.g., all groups,
teachers, students? Will the response give information concerning climate? A
full list of possible items must be narrowed. Rojewski and Wendel (1990)
suggest a jury method where three to six individuals reach consensus to
include or exclude items from the survey instrument. This method is effective
however time-consuming and intense. An alternative might be to select items
and have the list reviewed.

Assistance from technical experts should be

sought on item-construction issues such as preference for positively worded


items, the process of scoring, and methods of administration. Item consistency
across teachers, parents, and student groups must be examined and consistency
must be maintained so that comparisons between and among groups can occur.
However, items directed exclusively at one group may be included if reasons
exist.
4. Administer to a large sample and check psychometric properties.
Operational definition of the topic
Chapter three of this thesis provides a guide to understanding the topic of
adolescent peer counselling and its relevance to school climate.

The operational

definition of school climate adopted in the current project focuses on the psychosocial
dimensions of school climate. Support for these dimensions can be found in the work of
Karatzias, Power, and Swanson (2001). These authors suggest that perceptions of school
climate result from students reflections of their sense of well being determined by
school-related factors and experiences resulting from pupils involvement in school life
and their engagement in school climate. The psychosocial dimensions of relationships
and systems resonate with Karatzias et al.s suggestions.

108
Survey themes and categories
In the current project, the researcher aimed to develop a climate assessment
instrument that focused on the psychosocial dimensions of school climate. Moos (1973)
concluded that the same three general domains of relationship, personal development and
systems used to evaluate learning environments, could be used in conceptualising the
individual dimensions characterising diverse psychosocial environments.

The three

individual dimensions are referred to as the Relationship Dimensions, Personal


Development Dimensions and System Maintenance and System Change Dimensions. The
Personal Development domain with its various dimensions was not considered relevant
for this project and therefore not included in the survey. The survey developed in the
current project focuses on two of the three domains identified by Moos (1973) when
characterising psychosocial environments: the Relationship domain with its dimensions
which identify the nature and intensity of personal relationships within the environment,
and which assess the extent to which people are involved in the environment and the
extent to which they support and help each other; and the System Maintenance and
System Change domain including dimensions which involve the extent to which the
environment is orderly, clear in expectations, maintains control and is responsive to
change.
A school climate survey was developed after consulting the literature (Freidlin &
Salvucci, 1995; Johnson, Johnson, Kranch, & Zimmerman, 1999; Moos & Trickett,
1995). Five categories were chosen from those discussed in the literature, Respect, Trust,
Cohesiveness, Caring, and Morale and Expectations, to operationalise the psychosocial
dimensions of school climate, namely the Relationship Dimensions and the System
Maintenance and System Change Dimensions. It was believed that these dimensions
could be satisfactorily measured by the five categories used in the survey. Four of the

109
categories were selected to measure the Relationship Dimensions and the fifth category
was selected to measure the System Maintenance and System Change Dimensions. The
four categories measuring the Relationship Dimensions include respect, trust,
cohesiveness, and caring. The fifth category combines morale and expectations to
measure the System Maintenance and System Change Dimensions.
In their development of the Quality of School Life scale (QSL), Karatzias, Power,
and Swanson (2001) refer to a general sense of student well being as being determined
strictly by school-related factors and experiences resulting from pupils involvement in
school life and their engagement in school climate. Quality of school life can be thought
to have both affective and cognitive components and school satisfaction is assumed to be
a subjective construct able to account for each pupils individual perceptual differences in
relation to school climate (Baker, 1998). The categories selected for the School Climate
Survey used in the current project are a composite mainly of affective-experiential items
as well as a mixture of cognitive-managerial items in an attempt to capture student
perceptions of the affective-experiential and cognitive managerial status of the school.
Developing survey items
Survey items were collected from various school climate instruments such as the
university version of the Charles F. Kettering Climate Scale (Johnson, Johnson, Kranch,
& Zimmerman, 1999), Classroom Environment Scale (Moos & Trickett, 1995), School as
Caring Community Profile (Partnerships in Character Education Pilot Projects Program,
2000) and National Centre for Education Statistics Surveys (Freidlin & Salvucci, 1995).
Some survey items were then reworded and new statements were also written. Initially, a
total of 68 items were considered for the school climate survey. Three independent
reviewers reviewed the survey in order to control for any linguistic or item-meaning
problems (face validity). This resulted in some language changes and some items being

110
removed. Two open questions were also added at this time at the end of the scale: "What
suggestions do you have for addressing the behaviour and discipline issues that you see as
the greatest problems?" and, "How would you increase school spirit, teacher and staff
morale, and student morale?"
The final school climate survey consisted of 58 items with each of the five
categories being assessed by between 12 and 29 items. Some items are included in more
than one category. Table 5.1 clarifies the nature of the School Climate Survey by
providing a category description and sample items for each category and shows each
category classification according to Moos (1973) dimensions.

111

Table 5.1.
Description of categories in the school climate survey and their classification according
to Moos dimensions
Category

Description of category

Sample items

Moos Dimension

Respect

There is respectful
rapport
between
students and between
students, teachers and
other adults

Students behave respectfully towards their


teachers (+)

Relationship

Students in my class treat each other with


respect (+)
Disrespectful behaviours are of the greatest
concern to me (-)

Trust

Cohesiveness

Confidence in the way


problems will be solved
among students and
between
staff
and
students

Staff, students and principal are aware of


the procedures to resolve problems or
conflicts (+)

Behaviours, or actions
characterised by or
resulting in unity

Students in my class help each other learn


(+)

Relationship

Students solve conflicts without fighting,


insults, or threats (+)
Relationship

People in this school are willing to go out of


their way to help each other (+)
Students are always fighting with each other
(-)
Caring

Displays of
kindness/concern for
others

When students do something hurtful, they


apologise and try to make up for it (+)

Relationship

Students try to console or comfort a peer


who has experienced a sadness (+)
Students are always fighting with each other
(-)
Morale
and
expectations

Confidence,
enthusiasm, discipline
and expectations of the
students/staff

I wish I could go to another school (-)

System Maintenance
and System Change

Students in this school accept and follow


the rules (+)
Professional school staff in their
interactions with students, display the
qualities the school is trying to teach (+)

Note. Items designated (+) are scored by allocating 1, 2, 3, 4, respectively, for the responses disagree
strongly, disagree a little, agree a little agree strongly. Items designated (-) are scored in the reverse manner.
Omitted or invalid responses are given a score of 0.

112
Each item was developed such that it expressed a clearly negative or positive
opinion and neutral items were avoided. Therefore all subjects responded to a four-point,
Likert-type scale. A four-point Likert scale was adopted as the general finding has been
that Likert attitude scores exhibit higher test-retest reliability as compared to other
attitude measurement scales (Seiler & Hough, 1970). Moreover traditional instructions for
developing Likert scale items explicitly suggest that neutral items be avoided (Mueller,
1986). Consideration for these scale construction techniques was thought to be essential
for retrieving information from individuals when intentionally seeking positive or
negative attitudes. Using a cumulative model of response processes (Likert scale) rather
than responses from an ideal point is desired in this survey to more accurately discover
current perceptions in school climate rather than perceptions of preferred school climate.
Participants were asked to indicate how much they disagreed or agreed with each item
ranging from disagree strongly = 1, disagree a little = 2, agree a little = 3 to agree strongly
= 4. Twenty-two percent of items were negatively worded and therefore reverse scored
before analysis. Consequently a high score indicates a positive perception of school
climate.
Statistical analysis of the surveys psychometric properties.
Participants
In order to explore the statistical properties of the School Climate Survey it was
completed by 232 male and female students from middle high school with a mean age of
13.45 years and 275 male and female students from senior high school with a mean age of
16.75 years.
Procedure
Participants were informed that the survey contained statements about things that
may take place in their school and that the purpose of the survey was to find out what

113
their classroom and school were like. Participants were encouraged to give their honest
responses by ticking the box that best described their attitude.
During allocated class time the school counsellor distributed the survey to
students. It was explained that participation in the study was entirely voluntary and
anonymous. The survey was described as a survey that would invite them to express their
views about their school, that there were no right or wrong answers and that the data from
the survey would be used to help design and develop programs which would improve
school life for students. Students were reassured that their individual responses were not
important, as total responses would be considered.
Analysis
A factor analysis of the 58-item School Climate Survey was conducted using
principal axis factoring. The factors were rotated to a simple structure by employing both
orthogonal (varimax) and oblique (oblimin) rotations. A scree test was used to initially
determine the number of factors that could usefully be considered. A Cronbachs alpha
coefficient of internal consistency for each factor was determined to ensure that reliable
scales for all factors were obtained. Pearson's product-moment correlations for the factors
of the School Climate Survey were also conducted.
Results
The most useful explanation of the data could be explained by extracting three
factors using orthogonal rotation. A scree test and examination of the factor matrix
suggested that the use of three factors would maximise the ratio of the amount of
information extracted to the number of factors. Examination of factor matrices showed
that while orthogonal and oblique solutions were very similar, the orthogonal solution
was judged to be most appropriate. This was because the loadings in the orthogonal

114
solution showed a clearer pattern than the oblique solution, which showed more cross
loadings.
Table 5.2 delineates the three factor structure of the School Climate Survey, which
was obtained using principal axis factor analysis with orthogonal rotation.

Table 5.2
Pattern matrix for orthogonal factors of the School Climate Survey
Factors and items
I
I. Students perceptions of student relationships
2. Students in this school accept and follow the rules
3. Students behave respectfully towards their teachers
6. Students in my class help each other learn
7. Older students are kind to younger students
8. Students refrain from put-downs
10. When students do something hurtful, they apologise and try to
make up for it
11. Students treat schoolmates with respect
12. Students in my class are mean to each other
14. Students don't pick on others or exclude them just because they
are different
15. Students in my class treat each other with respect
17. Students respect others personal property
20. Students treat the school building and other school property with
respect
22. Most students in this school know each other very well
23. Students are always fighting with each other
24. Students show good sportsmanship
27. Students care about and help each other, even if they are not
friends
28. Students solve conflicts without fighting, insults, or threats
32. Students listen to each other in class discussions
33. Students behaved respectfully towards all other school staff
34. Students help new students make friends and feel accepted
35. Students work well together
38. The students here treat others as they would like to be treated
42. Students behave respectfully towards their parents
44. When students see another student being mean they try to stop it
45. People in the school are willing to go out of their way to help
each other
46. I perceive the school spirit to be very positive in all areas
49. Students are patient and forgiving with each other
53. I perceive the overall student morale to be very positive
55. Students try to console or comfort a peer who has experienced a
sadness

Factors
II

.50
.49
.41
.37
.55
.55
.61
.46
.47
.57
.49
.45
.33
.35
.44
.51
.46
.35
.52
.44
.49
.61
.37
.45
.57
.43
.51
.43
.32

.33

.35

III

115

Factors and items


I
II Students perceptions of teachers relationships with students
and other staff
4. My classroom is fun place to be
9. Staff, students and principal are aware of the procedures to
resolve problems or conflicts
16. I wish I could go to another school
18. Students feel they can talk to teachers about things that are
bothering them
21. The teachers always try to be fair
25. I feel safe and comfortable with the staff and students in this
school
29. The teacher/principal is willing to listen if a student has a serious
problem
30. I like my school
31. Teachers respect, care about, and help each other
32. Students listen to each other in class discussions
37. Professional school staff (principal, counsellors) in their
interactions with students, display the qualities the school is trying
to teach
40. Staff, in their interactions with each other, display the qualities
the school is trying to teach
43. Teachers treat all students fairly and don't play favourites
46. I perceive the school spirit to be very positive in all areas
48. Teachers go out of their way to help students who need extra
help
52. The school treats parents in a way that makes them feel
respected welcomed and cared about
53. I perceive the overall student morale to be very positive
54. Other school staff in their interactions with students display the
qualities the school is trying to teach
55. Students try to console or comfort a peer who has experienced a
sadness
56. Parents support and work with the school
58. Teachers in their interactions with students display the qualities
the school is trying to teach
III Students perceptions of unacceptable behaviour
1. Physical and aggressive behaviours are of greatest concern to me
5. The worst behaviour problems occur in the hallway between
classes
16. I wish I could go to another school
26. Disrespectful behaviours are of greatest concern to me
36. The worst behaviour problems occur before school
57. The worst behaviour problems occur after school

Factors
II

III

.43
.40
.54
.37

.33

.62
.53
.60

.35

.65
.61
.39
.56

.60

.43

.50
.33
.51
.52

.44

.42
.42

.32

.35
.43
.63

-.30
.36
.54

.33
-.39
.40
.37

Note. Item numbers are from the survey used. Factor 1 and Factor 2 shared items 16, 32, 46, 53 and 55.
Item numbers 13, 19, 39, 41, 50, and 51 did not load on to any factor and were excluded from the table.
Loadings are only reported for those greater than .3. Student perceptions of student relationships:
eigenvalue = 10.8, variance explained = 18.64%. Student perceptions of teachers relationships with students
and other staff: eigenvalue = 4.47, variance explained = 7.71%. Students perceptions of unacceptable
behaviour: eigenvalue = 2.29, variance explained = 3.94%.

116
In the present study, the three-factor solution explained only 30% of the total
variance. The large amount of scree suggests that several items in the survey were
inappropriate and have been responsible for adding in unwanted variance.

Hair,

Andersen, Tathum, and Black (1998) suggest that loadings less than 0.3 are insignificant
and that values higher than 0.3 reflect items that are pure, and conceptually more
representational of the factor being measured. In the current analysis, loadings are only
reported for those items greater than 0.3.
Items loading on Factor 1 accounted for 18.64% of the total variability. These
items pertain to the way in which students relate with each other, their expectations
regarding peer relationships, the way in which students relate with adults and prosocial
behaviour among students. It was therefore labelled Students Perceptions of Student
Relationships. Items loading onto Factor 2, accounting for 7.71% of the total variability,
primarily relate to students perceptions of their experiences with teachers and other staff,
teacher/staff behaviours with students, and the interactions between teachers, staff and
parents. This factor has been labelled Students Perceptions of Teachers relationships
with students and other staff. Some items in this factor cross loaded with Factor 1
however their conceptual relationship belonged with Factor 1 and were chosen for that
factor. Items loading onto Factor 3, accounted for only 3.94% of the total variability.
These items relate to negative acting out behaviours by students and the factor was
labelled Students Perceptions of Unacceptable Behaviour. One item in this factor cross
loaded with Factor 2.
A Cronbachs alpha coefficient of internal consistency for each subscale of the
School Climate Survey was determined. Cronbachs alpha was .89 for Factor 1, and .88
for Factor 2, indicating reliability for both Factor 1 and Factor 2 as subscales of the

117
School Climate Survey. Factor 3 demonstrated low internal consistency with Cronbachs
alpha = .09.
Pearson's product-moment correlations for the three factors of the School Climate
Survey were conducted. The items which did not load onto either Factor 1 or Factor 2
were removed and the school climate total was recalculated. The correlations between
Factor 1, Factor 2 were significant at the .01 level. However Factor 3 was found not to
correlate with Factor 1 or Factor 2. Table 5.3 reports the correlations between the School
Climate Survey factors.

Table 5.3.
Correlations between the school climate factors.

Student perceptions of
student relationships

Student perceptions of
teachers relationships
with students and other
staff
Students perceptions of
unacceptable behaviour

Student
Perceptions
of Student
relationships

Students
Perceptions
of Teachers
relationships
with students
and other
staff.

Students
Perceptions of
Unacceptable
Behaviour

Persons correlation
Sig. (2-tailed)
N

.498**
.000
506

.037
.409
507

Persons correlation
Sig. (2-tailed)
N

.498**
.000
506

-.045
.314
506

-.045
.314
506

507

Persons correlation
.037
Sig. (2-tailed)
.409
N
507
Note: ** correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

Because Factor 3 demonstrated low internal consistency and was considered not to
be stable, and did not correlate with Factors 1 and 2, it was decided that only Factors 1
and 2 would be used in subsequent analysis. Additionally, items in Factor 3 did not
accurately reflect student perceptions of school climate; rather, the items identified the

118
students appraisal of unacceptable behaviours and where they are likely to occur. The
final School Climate Survey is presented in Appendix K.
Conclusion
The importance of creating a positive climate for prosocial behaviour cannot be
overstated. The significance of the School Climate Survey developed in this project lies
in its focus on the psychosocial dimensions of school climate and its relationship with
perceived support for peer counsellors from both peers and teachers and other staff. As a
result of the present research project, an intervention in the form of a peer counselling
program was introduced into the school community and the School Climate Survey was
used to evaluate the impact of the peer counselling program on the student/student and
student/teacher relationships.
Evidence of psychometric integrity for item and factor scores was observed in the
development of the survey. Therefore the School Climate Survey developed for this
project can be seen to help generate data that describes the present cognitive-managerial
and affective experiential status of the school. Additionally the impact of the peer
counsellor program introduced into the school community as a result of this project is
evaluated using a test-retest design administering the instrument on two occasions at least
six months apart with both peer counsellors and students in the wider school community
from grades 9, 10, 11 and 12.
The following chapters report and discuss the results of the research questions
addressed in the current project. The three studies which make up the current project are
presented sequentially beginning with Study 1, in chapter 6 followed by a report and
discussion of the results of qualitative data from Study 2 in chapter 7, and a report and
discussion of the results of the quantitative data from Study 2 in chapter 8. Chapter 9

119
reports and discusses the results of Study 3. Finally Chapter 10 provides a discussion of
the contributions of the current study to the literature.

120

121
CHAPTER 6
Study 1
Research Questions
Study 1 aimed to answer the first two research questions:
1. Which conversational skills and relational behaviours used by
adolescents in peer relationships are useful in a helping conversation?
2. Which counselling microskills are easy for adolescents to use, and
which counselling skills and/or approaches are useful for young
people?
Participants
Participants volunteered after receiving details of the research program.
Interested students were then sorted into groups varied but matched for age and
gender to collect data to respond to research question one. As discussed in chapter
four, it was believed that the topic of discussion which focused specifically on the
functional relationships of adolescents helping behaviours with their peers was likely
to mitigate the influence of the age and gender variables.
Participants were given a copy of the discussion questions (see Appendix C)
before the focus groups were conducted so that they could become familiar with the
topics that would be discussed concerning peer helping behaviour. The subjects
included in the focus groups were male and female students from grades 8, 9, 10, and
11 relating in a peer environment and attending a denominational high school. A total
of 64 students responded to the initial invitation to participate and 52 students
attended the focus group discussions, 41 female and 11 male.
To respond to the second research question, a total of 36 students, (10 male
and 26 female) self-selected from the original focus groups, and were divided equally

122
into four subgroups (nine subjects in each subgroup). These subgroups were used to
train participants in specific counselling microskills and to identify those counselling
skills that were easy for adolescents to use and those counselling skills which
appealed to young people. Each subgroup contained two males and seven females and
was matched as closely as possible for grade. Each subgroup contained at least one
student from each grade level. All subgroups contained two grade eight students,
either two or three grade nine students, either one or two grade 10 students and three
grade 11 students. It is believed that the topic of discussion which focused specifically
on the functional relationships of adolescents helping behaviours with their peers was
a topic that could comfortably be discussed by a group of young people with mixed
age and gender.
Procedure and Materials
In response to the first research question the conversational skills and
relational behaviours used by adolescents in a helping conversation were identified
using focus group discussions. Eight focus group discussion sessions were conducted
with either six or seven participants in each group. Initially each group was matched
as closely as possible to contain equal numbers of students from each of grades 8, 9,
10 and 11. However, demands on student time from competing programs and
prioritised commitments meant that some interested students did not attend their
allocated groups. Consequently, three female only groups and five mixed gender
groups were conducted, with each group containing at least one student from each
grade. Each group session lasted approximately 40 minutes. Students were arranged
in a circle with either the researcher or school counsellor as part of the group. Data
were collected from the focus groups using in-depth semi-structured group
discussions, which focused on the conversational and relational experiences of peer

123
helping behaviour where the students believed that they had helped another peer or
had been helped themselves. Specific questions were used in the focus group
discussions to ensure that all the groups discussed the issues in a relatively
comparable way and to aid analysis by ensuring consistent comparisons across all the
groups. The following are examples of questions used: Can anyone tell me about the
way young people help each other when they are experiencing problems? and Think
of a situation related to a helping experience of yours where you really felt that
someone had helped you. What happened? Where were you? Was anyone else
involved? The researcher and school counsellor moderated four groups each. They
introduced the first question to be discussed and added prompts where necessary. The
prompts used focussed on descriptions rather than why questions and related to
concrete helping situations where the participants believed helping had taken place.
The group discussions were audio taped. Although eight focus groups were conducted
to collect data to respond to research question one, only seven audiotapes could be
transcribed due to technical failure of the audio taping equipment.
As mentioned earlier, the second research question aimed to discover which
counselling microskills young people could use easily and would find useful when
helping their peers. In response to this question, students who self-selected from the
focus groups to train as peer counsellors were first trained as a whole group over
three, one hour sessions, to recognise factors related to understanding and respecting
difference, issues and policies with regard to confidentiality and referral, and
establishing a code of ethics. They were then divided into four subgroups.
Each subgroup was trained in a set of specific counselling microskills from
recognised and established counselling approaches and practices. The counselling
microskills selected were chosen because they either matched with the conversational

124
helping skills and behaviours identified in research question one or because they have
been used most commonly in professional counselling practice and have been used to
date in other peer counsellor training programs. Training in subgroups was conducted
over three one hour sessions and training details for all subgroups is outlined in
Appendix D. Training in subgroups consisted of:
Group A - Client Centred Counselling where the training focused on reflective
listening skills, the use of minimal responses, reflection of feeling and content and
summarising responses;
Group B - Reality Therapy counselling skills where the training focused on training
students in a five-step process of identifying options and choices, considering
consequences and selecting and trying out new behaviours;
Group C - Solution Focused counselling skills, which focused on the use of questions
in a step-by-step process to discover a solution to a problem. In particular the training
focussed on open and closed questions, exception oriented questions, externalising
questions and questions to address future options; and
Group D - Recognition, validation and enhancement of typical adolescent helping
skills and behaviours.
A feedback questionnaire was used following subgroup training to collect data
from participants from each helping conversation (for an example see Appendix E).
The feedback questionnaire was a five point Likert scale measuring the ease and
usefulness of the specific micro-counselling skills. Ease of use was rated as Very
difficult, slightly difficult, OK, Easy, or Very easy. The participants perception of
how useful each skill was in helping the other person to talk and feel comfortable was
rated Very unhelpful, Slightly unhelpful, OK, Useful, Very useful. Results with
regard to which skills were easy to use and how useful each skill was in helping the

125
other person to talk and feel comfortable were determined from the participants
perspective.
Six focus groups with participant numbers ranging from three to seven were
conducted to collect data from the subgroups. Timetabling constraints made it
difficult to evenly distribute participants according to the numbers, gender, and grade
level of each focus group. Focus groups were semi-structured and included openended questions allowing participants to respond in their own words.

Specific

questions were used in the groups (Appendix F) to ensure that all participants
discussed the issues in a relatively comparable way and to aid analysis by ensuring
consistent comparisons across all the groups. Typical questions included In what
ways were the skills you used useful when helping your conversational partner? In
what ways were the skills you used unhelpful when helping your conversational
partner? and If you felt like you didn't help the person you were talking with what
gave you that impression? Group sessions were audio taped, and transcribed
verbatim. Transcripts from the audiotapes were examined.
The researchers reflections and field notes were also recorded in a journal and
were used to reflect upon data gathered in focus group discussions and questionnaires.
Analysis
Analysis of Focus Groups
Verbatim transcripts from the focus group discussion audiotapes were
examined using Krueger's (1998) methodology. The researcher, school counsellor and
an associate researcher systematically examined each transcript for the presence,
meanings and relationships of words and concepts that were descriptive or
interpretive of helping experiences. Additionally, each examiner made inferences

126
about the messages within the texts with regard to the phenomena of helping and
being helped.
All examiners reviewed the seven transcripts from focus groups conducted in
response to research question one. Each examiner extracted each helping experience
description independently. The number of times each helping experience description
was mentioned by an individual in each group was recorded as well as recording
supporting statements made by other participants in the group that referred to the
same description or were considered an elaboration of the original statement.
Selecting which descriptions should receive consideration from the focus group
transcripts was decided by group-to-group validation (Krueger, 1998), that is, how
many groups mentioned the topic, how many people within each of the groups
mentioned the topic, and how much energy and enthusiasm the topic generated among
the participants.
Categories resulting from descriptions reflecting the phenomenon of helping
and being helped were identified to answer research question one. All examiners
placed helping descriptions into categories before meeting to make comparisons.
Initially, the examiners identified a total of 39 categories. There was strong agreement
between all of the parties after discussion that determined the final number of 20
categories of conversational helping skills and behaviours by combining initial
categories that were conceptually similar. The categories identified are described in
the results. With regard to research question one there was strong agreement between
all of the parties examining the transcripts regarding the relevance and meaning of the
data, which contributed to the identified categories.
Data from focus group discussions collected to answer research question two
was recorded and transcribed and was used to support the data from questionnaires.

127
The researcher, school counsellor and an associate researcher systematically
examined each transcript for the presence, meanings and relationships of words and
concepts that indicated or described the participants perceptions of the helping
experiences with regard to ease of use and usefulness of the skills. Additionally, each
examiner made inferences about the messages within the texts with regard to the
helping experience. A record of transcribed descriptions for each subgroup is
provided in Appendix G.
Analysis of Questionnaires
The feedback questionnaire was used to collect data to respond to research
question two. The feedback questionnaire was a five point Likert scale measuring the
ease and usefulness of each specific counselling microskill. Ease of use was rated as
Very Difficult, Difficult, OK, Easy, or Very Easy. The subjects perception of how
useful each skill was in helping the other person to talk and feel comfortable was
rated very unhelpful, unhelpful, OK, useful, or very useful.
Results from the questionnaires were analysed using SPSS 11.0 to describe the
data descriptively as frequency distributions and to report the ease of use and
usefulness for each of the counselling microskills within each subgroup.
Analysis of Researchers Field Notes
Analysis of the researchers field notes mirrored the processes used in
grounded theory qualitative research methodology as it was felt that the basic tenets
of grounded theory methodology fit with the contextual locating approach devised by
Cunningham (1988). The contextual locating approach is used in the current project,
and is described in chapter 4. Cunninghams contextual locating approach openly
recognises the subjectivity of the researcher in the collection, analysis and
interpretation of the data, and recognises the more intimate interaction that may occur

128
between the researcher and the participants in the study (Lippi, 2001; Schutz 1994;
Webb, 1989). Contextual locating facilitates the linking and weaving together of
insight developed in a number of different ways and enables the researcher to explore
the experience of others and to directly relate it to their own experience in a
systematic way. It can be argued that contextual locating is about discerning themes
in the data (Tesch, 1995) and can therefore be situated quite comfortably next to
grounded theory methodology.
While the intent of grounded theory methodology is the generation of theory
relating to a particular situation (Strauss & Corbin, 1994), the primary aim of
including researcher field notes in the current study was to provide an alternative
platform from which to view the phenomena of adolescent peer counselling.
Grounded theory identifies the major constructs, or categories of a
phenomenon, their relationships, and the context and process (Becker, 1993). Glaser
and Strauss (1967) believed that theories should be grounded in data from the field
not based on an a priori theoretical orientation.
Analyses of researcher field notes in the current study, comply generally with
features of grounded theory data analysis. Field notes were recorded and then
concepts were identified that were interesting to the phenomena of adolescent peer
counselling.

Concepts represented actions, interactions, and events that were

significant in the data.

Concepts and their causal, intervening and contextual

relationships were then described from the researchers clinical and professional
theoretical framework. Comparing the researchers theories with the data collected
using other qualitative methods, quantitative results and the developmental and
counselling literature provided validation.

129
Results
Research Question 1
The categories identified by young people as being important conversational
characteristics and helping behaviours used in helping conversations with their peers
are listed in Table 6.1 and are arranged in descending order of frequency of mention.
A full record of transcribed descriptions relevant for each final category listed in the
table is included in Appendix H.
Table 6.1.
Categories of conversational helping skills and behaviours and the number
and frequency of times mentioned
Categories

Number of
Groups where
mentioned

Number
of times
mentioned

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Conversational responses
Listening
Reassurance
Emotional regulation.
Involvement

7
7
7
7
7

40
35
35
30
28

6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.

Understanding
Giving advice
Confidentiality
Trust
Helping others to talk
Personal disclosure
Respect
Another point of view

6
6
7
6
4
6
4
6

23
21
19
19
19
18
16
15

14.
15.
16.
17.

Mediation
Making contact
Collaborative problem solving
Endorsement

4
5
5
5

13
12
12
11

4
4
4

9
7
7

18. Safe relationship


19. Distracting
20. Evaluative responses

Frequency of
mention

Repeatedly

Frequently

Several Times

A few times

The categories identified will be described separately in descending order of


frequency of mention.
Conversational responses: Transcribed words such as talk, tell, express,
spoke, talking, and conversation, indicated that verbal communication was

130
considered an appropriate helping behaviour. As a consequence the category of
conversational responses, emerged. Segments of transcripts implying that a
conversational interaction had or was occurring, were also indicators of
conversational responses and were included in this category. For example, I just like
to help them out and just talk to them and Its just like making conversation with
them . Conversational helping behaviours were identified by all focus groups
and identified repeatedly by different individuals within the focus groups as providing
an opportunity for the helper and the person being helped to satisfy their needs in a
helping relationship. Initial category descriptions were similar and included
conversation as the descriptor.
Listening: Transcribed words such as listen, listening, and pay attention,
contributed to the category of listening. Listening was a category mentioned in all
focus groups and was identified repeatedly as a behaviour which provided an
opportunity for personal self-disclosure to occur during a conversation. The value of
listening from the helper's point of view is reflected in the following sample, You
have to listen, like sometimes people let people talk but don't really take in what the
people are saying, you have to actually listen. Listening was seen to be valuable
from the point of view of the helpers role in the conversation eg., Mainly about
listening most people don't want advice they just want to be listened to so they can
work out the problems themselves, and for the person being helped eg., When I got
depressed I had a lot (friends) I could count on that would listen to me
Reassurance: The category of reassurance emerged as a result of combining
initial categories of support and reassurance. The category of reassurance included
comments from transcripts which communicated supportive responses, aimed at
removing doubts or fears and comments which made reference to giving comfort,

131
approval, and encouragement. For example, Reassured him it was okay and that it is
not the end of the world and Support them try and make them feel better than what
they did. Reassurance was mentioned in all focus groups and referred to repeatedly
by young people as ways of helping the other person to feel better. Reassurance was
also seen as useful by the person being helped, for example, Just by listening and
telling me its going to be all right.
Emotional regulation: Emotional regulation can be defined as behaviour
where negative emotions are contained and positive emotions displayed. Young
people are perceived by their peers as being exemplary emotional regulators when
they regulate the emotional state of others by putting effort into helping others
achieve a more positive emotional state, and actively help peers contain their negative
emotional states (Bergin, et al, 2003).
Emotional regulation was mentioned in all focus groups and mentioned
repeatedly by individuals in groups. Transcript statements were attributed to the
category of emotional regulation when the helpers awareness of directly contributing
to a change in the other persons mood through conversational strategies was
mentioned. For example, "It feels good to see the smile on their face and know you
actually help them. When people come to you at first and they are really shy but you
tell them it's okay to talk (and they change). Additionally, transcript statements
were attributed to the category of emotional regulation where they specifically
indicated that the other person was or might feel better as a result of the helpers
behaviour during the conversation. For example, I can make people feel good about
themselves and make them happy and I also can figure out problems really well and
help them with that. The use of humour was initially a separate category but
combined into the final category of emotional regulation as it was specifically referred

132
to in the transcripts as a strategy for influencing another persons mood. For example,
I made a bit of a joke and she started laughing.
Transcript descriptions from two of the final categories, reassurance, and
endorsements were not included in the category of emotional regulation even though
they are clearly conversational skills, which can regulate the mood of others. The
researchers reflections of transcript descriptions concluded that the conversational
behaviours of reassurance, and endorsements appeared to serve a different purpose to
that of emotional regulation during a helping conversation.
Involvement: The category of involvement was mentioned in all focus groups
and mentioned repeatedly by individuals within groups. The category of involvement
included transcribed words and segments of transcripts that implied a sense of caring,
a commitment to the other person and the relationship as well as concern about the
message being discussed and a desire to make the relationship useful. Initial
categories contributing to this category included being available, reflected in the
following comment, and just tell them if they're ready to talk you're there;
commitment to the helping process, for example, I don't just say I'm too busy like
even if I am doing something I try and listen to them for a little while and
friendliness, for example, Sometimes I think they need a friend.
Understanding: Understanding emerged as a category from transcript
descriptions that indicated that the helper understood the other persons point of view.
Understanding was mentioned in all but one focus group and mentioned frequently by
individuals in groups. Understanding emerged as a final category from initial
categories of empathy, being non-judgemental and sharing similar experiences.
Researcher reflections of transcripts concluded that the sharing of personal
experiences similar to those being discussed by the person being helped was used to

133
indicate that the helper was clearly able to understand their peers problem through a
process of identification. The following example illustrates understanding through
being empathic, " Seeing what they see ", being non-judgemental, "I don't say they're
wrong or whatever(I) don't judge", and understanding through sharing similar
experiences "You can understand how they are feeling and if they have had the
same problem you could relate to them.
Giving advice: Giving advice was mentioned in all but one focus group and
was mentioned frequently by individuals within groups. Transcript statements that
mentioned the word

advice were included in this category. For example,

Sometimes (I) try to offer advice, who to see or something like that. However,
inclusion in the category did not necessarily suggest that young people considered
giving advice as always contributing to positive outcomes in the helping conversation.
For example, I don't give advice, (every time) I don't see the point cause sometimes
it could be the wrong advice for them it depends on who it is. Giving advice
incorporated the initial category of providing alternative opinions and suggestions
For example, tell them how you solved that problem you might have had, and if
it's worked for you, you can suggest that solution to them.
Confidentiality: Confidentiality was mentioned in all focus groups and
mentioned frequently by individuals in groups. Transcript descriptions were included
in this category where they indicated that information would not be shared, for
example, She won't tell anyone and she knows what to say or that information
would be kept private and not disclosed to others, for example, You tell them it's
okay to talk and that you are not going to tell anyone and their secrets are safe with
you.

134
Trust: Trust was mentioned in all but one focus group and mentioned
frequently by individuals in groups. Transcript descriptions were included in this
category where they indicated a belief that the other person was someone responsible
reliable and ethical For example, You would have to feel confident telling them.
Transcribed words such as trust trusted and trustworthy also contributed to
statements included in the category of trust, for example, If someone doesn't want
you to tell anyone what's wrong they have to be able to trust you.
Helping others to talk: Helping others to talk was mentioned in four out of the
seven focus group discussions. Individuals within those groups mentioned helping
others to talk frequently. Transcript statements that indicated recognition that in the
position of helper sometimes it might be useful to offer the conversational partner
some assistance with regard to personal self-disclosure through the use of
conversational skills were included in the category of helping others to talk. For
example, Making its comfortable for them so they know they can talk about it, and
Try and get them to talk. Investigation of the transcripts identified four initial
categories that described specific communication skills to facilitate helping others to
talk such as, direct invitations to talk, for example, and just tell them if they're
ready to talk you're there, the use of questions, for example, "Are they feeling
okay?" Clarifying, for example, ask how you feel about it then they would
clarify and talk about it with you and Summarising, "Summarise for them, makes it
easy to understand".
Personal disclosure: Personal disclosure was a category mentioned in all but
one focus group and was mentioned frequently by individuals in groups. Initial
categories of disclosing emotion, and disclosing personal information were
incorporated into the category of personal disclosure. Transcript statements indicating

135
sharing and not withholding emotion or information, for example, "Talking openly
and not like holding things back or expressing emotion or information, for example,
I got everything out that was importantall bottled up inside

Just to tell

someone contributed to the category of personal disclosure.


Respect: Respect was mentioned in only half of the focus groups but
mentioned frequently. Transcript statements that illustrated the helpers concern with
regard to being either intrusive or pressuring were included in this category, for
example, "Yeah giving them space". Initial categories contributing to respect
included backing off and silence. Transcript statements that indicated rejection of
the helpers offers to help and the helpers sense of being unable to help were also
included as they implied a belief that the persons rights to accept help or not should
be respected, for example, It makes me feel like, well you are trying to help them and
then they sort of push you away, it makes you feel a bit, well not needed, but you have
to deal with that cause if it's best for them then
Another point of view: Offering another point of view, emerged as a category
where transcript statements indicated an attempt by the helper to provide
consideration of an alternative meaning with regard to the way the problem or
dilemma was being viewed, for example, I've said not all people can get al.ong
cause different personalities don't really mesh. Transcript statements that reflected
recognition of the value of the helpers point of view were also included, for example,
" just having them listen and give me their point of view to help me is something
that I really value. Initial categories contributing to another point of view included
reframing. The category of another point of view was considered distinctly
different from the category of giving advice in terms of the intention behind the
behaviour. Whereas giving advice focussed on solving problems and finding

136
solutions another point of view emphasised a sharing of information. Offering
another point of view was mentioned in all but one focus group and mentioned
frequently by individuals in groups.
Mediation: Mediation was mentioned in four of the focus groups and
mentioned several times. Mediation, was included as a category where transcript
statements indicated active intervention and arbitration between two parties, for
example, " I try to get them to talk to the person so that it doesn't make things
worse. Like talk to both sides and try and help them keep the relationship.
Making contact: Making contact was mentioned in five of the focus groups
and mentioned several times. Initial categories contributing to the category of making
contact included observing and initiating. Transcript statements indicating
observation of mood, and behaviour were included in this category For example,
They just act different around you; the feeling you get from them has changed as
well as statements which indicated an attempt to make contact following an
observation, for example, I always saw her walking around the streets when my mum
would drive me somewhere and she like never. . I asked her one day why she was
like that and she told me.
Endorsements: Offering endorsements was mentioned in five of the focus
groups and mentioned several times. Initial categories contributing to the category of
endorsements included affirmation, loyalty and agreeing. Strongly evaluative
statements that declared support for the other person or upheld and defended the other
person to indicate the helpers solidarity with the situation being discussed were
included, for example, I am the sort of person who will back people up. Like you
don't just keep going, Oh you suck, or you stink and everything. Additionally,
statements that indicated loyalty, for example, (If you wanted to help them)... take

137
sides and agreement, and affirmation, for example, Generally agree and then (say)
youre probably right about what you're saying, were included in this category.
Researcher reflections of the transcripts concluded that offering endorsements
occurred when the helper wanted to show that they identified with the person being
helped rather than as an attempt to make the person to feel better.
Collaborative problem solving: Collaborative problem solving was mentioned
in five of the focus groups and mentioned several times. Transcript statements
indicating that both the helper and the person being helped acknowledged the
simultaneous role of the helper in facilitating the problem solving process were
included in this category. For example, Helping you work it out to be with you every
step and Mainly about listening most people don't want advice they just want to be
listened to so they can work out the problems themselves. The initial categories of
problem solving together, control over the process, and facilitative problem
solving contributed to the category of collaborative problem solving. The following
transcript statement is an example indicating control over the process If you let them
do it their way they feel like they've fixed it. They are not being ordered what to do.
So that way they are in control of their life, not being a puppet, problem solving
together They don't want you to tell them what to do they want to find the answers
themselves while they're telling you what's wrong and facilitative problem solving
Sometimes I listen carefully and then run it back in like point form and like
beginning middle and end and try to find a resolution for it together.
Safe relationship; A safe relationship was mentioned in four of the focus
groups and mentioned by individuals only a few times. The initial categories of
exclusive relationships, feeling safe, and privacy contributed to the final category
of safe relationship. Transcript statements were included in this category where

138
exclusivity in the relationship, for example, Safer in a one-to-one and privacy,
Usually like if you have a problem and wanted to tell someone youd wait until you

were one-on-one like you'd wait till no one else was around were inferred or
mentioned.
Distracting: Distracting was mentioned in four out of the seven groups and
only a few times. Transcript statements were included in the category distracting,
where there was indication that it was advantageous for the problem topic to be
avoided by introducing an alternative conversational topic, for example, "I just like
making (different) conversation with them getting their mind of the bad things that
they are thinking about usually or when distracting as a strategy to replace
conversational helping behaviour might be considered, for example, Took me out
to the movies just to relieve some stress and stuff.
Evaluative responses: Evaluative responses were mentioned in four out of the
seven groups and only a few times. The initial category of constructive criticism
contributed to the final category of evaluative responses as it was agreed that
evaluative responses in transcript statements reflected appraisal of both thoughts and
behaviours in a way that was constructive and intended to help a person improve in
the future For example, Once I got a bit of a bad mark and I was angry cause I
didn't think I deserved that mark really and one of my friends said that I was angry
and told me that it was not up to me. That it's probably a hard marker and told me I
could raise my grades with other assessments and other subjects as well. I didn't
blame the teacher after that.. Transcript statements were included in this category
where the statements appraised the thoughts and/or the behaviour of the person being
helped in a non-reflective way, for example, " I tell her it goes both ways to my friend

139
when she complains of her friends turning against her. I suggest how her behaviour
might affect her relationships with others.
Favourable evaluative responses such as "that's a good idea" were not
included in this category as they were considered to fit more comfortably under the
category of endorsements.
Research Question 2
To answer research question two results from questionnaires measuring the
ease of use and usefulness of each specific counselling microskill were analysed using
SPSS to determine frequency distributions and are reported descriptively as
percentages in Table 6.2 and Table 6.3. Table 6.2 summarises results from feedback
questionnaires measuring the ease of use for each of the counselling microskills
within each subgroup. Table 6.3 summarises results from feedback questionnaires
measuring the usefulness of the counselling microskills within each subgroup.

140
Table 6.2
Percentages of responses summarising the ease of use for each of the counselling
microskills within each subgroup
Subgroup

Very
Difficult
%

Difficult

OK

Easy

Very
easy
%

A - Client Centred Counselling.


Minimal responses
Reflection of content
Reflection of feeling
Non-verbal responses
Summarising responses.

33.3
33.3
16.7

16.7
33.3
16.7
33.3
33.3

33.3

11.1

44.4

11.1
11.1

33.3
66.7

44.4
22.2

44.4

33.3
33.3

44.4
11.1

11.1
22.2

11.1
22.2
11.1
22.2

66.7
77.8
44.4
55.6
33.3

33.3
11.1
33.3
22.2
22.2

33.3
11.1

33.3
55.6

22.2
33.3

11.1

33.3

33.3

33.3

11.1

55.6

33.3

16.7

16.7

16.7

50

8.3

16.7

41.7

33.3

33.3

8.3

33.3

33.3
25

50
33.3
50

41.7
33.3
25

33.3

33.3

25

33.3
66.7
16.7

16.7

66.7
50

B - Reality Therapy
Identifying the current problem and
coping
Explore alternatives
Exploring the consequences for each
alternative
Choosing an option.
Devising an action plan and follow up.

11.1

22.2
11.1

44.4

C - Solution Focused counselling


Closed questions
Open questions
Identifying the problem
Scaling the problem
Determining a preferred position on
the scale.
Discovering exceptions to the problem
Discovering behaviours at exception
times
Discovering actions to enable
movement up the scale
Visualising a goal for a positive
outcome
D - Validation and enhancement of
typical adolescent helping behaviours
Joining skills, by selfdisclosure/questions/agreement
Closed Questions (information
gathering)
Open Questions (curiosity and
interest)
Reassurance with suggestions
Humour and distracting
Expressions (short responses of
surprise/interest)
Support with regard to emotions

25

8.3

8.3

141
Table 6.3
Percentages of responses summarising the usefulness of each of the counselling
microskills within each subgroup
Subgroup

Very
Unhelpful
%

Unhelpful

OK

Useful

Very
Useful
%

A - Client Centred Counselling.


Minimal responses
Reflection of content
Reflection of feeling
Non-verbal responses
Summarising responses.

16.7

16.7

66.7
66.7
16.7
33.3

66.7
33.3
33.3

16.7

50

33.3

50

B - Reality Therapy
Identifying the current problem and
coping
Explore alternatives
Exploring the consequences for each
alternative
Choosing an option.
Devising an action plan and follow up.

22.2

55.6

22.2

22.2
22.2

55.6
55.6

22.2

22.2
11.1
22.2

44.4

55.6
22.2

33.3
11.1

11.1

11.1
44.4
55.6

22.2
22.2
11.1
11.1
22.2

55.6
77.8
22.2
33.3
11.1

22.2
11.1

11.1
22.2

55.6
44.4

11.1
22.2

11.1

22.2

44.4

22.2

11.1

44.4

22.2

22.2

16.7

50

33.3

33.3

41.7

25

8.3

41.7

50

8.3
25
8.3

8.3
8.3
25

25
50
41.7

58.3
16.7
25

8.3

16.7

25

50

C - Solution Focused counselling


Closed questions
Open questions
Identifying the problem
Scaling the problem
Determining a preferred position on
the scale.
Discovering exceptions to the problem
Discovering behaviours at exception
times
Discovering actions to enable
movement up the scale
Visualising a goal for a positive
outcome

22.2
55.6
11.1

D - Validation and enhancement of


typical adolescent helping
behaviours
Joining skills, by selfdisclosure/questions/agreement
Closed Questions (information
gathering)
Open Questions (curiosity and
interest)
Reassurance with suggestions
Humour and distracting
Expressions (short responses of
surprise/interest)
Support with regard to emotions

142

Data from focus group discussions describing the subjects experience of


using the skills was transcribed and recorded and is used to support the data from
questionnaires.
Results from Subgroup A (Client Centred Counselling). The findings clearly
show that the microskills of reflection of content and reflection of feeling used in
subgroup A (Client Centred Counselling) were both difficult to use and not useful.
Table 6.2 indicates that 66.6% of respondents found reflecting content either
very difficult or difficult to use during a helping conversation and this was supported
in focus group sessions from data collected with regard to peer counsellors' personal
experience of using and practising the skills learnt in subgroups. For example, "(You)
don't have a sense of helping other than just listening", and, "(Using reflection)
make(s) you sound like a counsellor rather than a helper". Similarly, 66.7% of the
respondents in subgroup A found using reflection of content unhelpful "She didn't like
me repeating her".
Additionally, 83.4% of the respondents in subgroup A found using reflection
of feeling either very difficult or difficult to use.

The difficulty is reflected in

statements from focus group discussions For example, Didnt feel like things we
normally do". Similarly, 66.7% of respondents found reflection of feeling unhelpful in
the conversation. The following statements support these statistics. If you reflect
back obvious feeling it makes the other person angry (and they would say something
like) "thats obvious isn't it?" and " (You go) around in circles in the conversation".
Most respondents found the use of non-verbal responses either okay or easy to
use (66.7%). However, the researchers reflections noted that respondents reported
experiencing periods of silence during the conversation and most respondents agreed

143
that they used questions to fill in the gaps, illustrated by the following statement,
"When the conversation went quiet I used questions". Similarly, 83.3% of respondents
found the use of non-verbal responses very useful or useful.
Results from subgroup B (Reality Therapy). Results from subgroup B indicate
that 88.8% of respondents found it either easy or very easy to find out about the
current problem. The researchers reflections noted that respondents used questions
to obtain information about the problem with little emphasis on finding out about
current coping strategies as can be seen by the following statement from the focus
group discussions, "I wouldn't talk about feeling stuff at the beginning".
Results indicate that 55.5% of respondents found it either very difficult or
difficult to devise an action plan and follow up. In particular the follow up was
suggested as being a difficult aspect of this skill as can be seen by the following
statements from focus group discussions, "(I) didn't want to bring it up again" and
"When it's a big problem you can be seen as being nosey". In particular it seems that
devising an action plan and following up was found by 66.7% of respondents to be
either very unhelpful or unhelpful, supported by comments such as, "Approaching
them specially might make them worry" and "It made her more uncomfortable-like
forcing her".
With regard to exploring the consequences for each alternative from subgroup
B (Reality Therapy), 44.4% of respondents found the skill either very unhelpful or
unhelpful reflected in the following statement, (Exploring consequences was) an
overkill".
Results from subgroup C (Solution Focused Counselling). Results from
subgroup C (Solution Focused Counselling) found that 100% of respondents found
using closed questions either easy or very easy to use, and 77.8% of respondents

144
found using closed questions either useful or very useful. Similarly, 88.9% of
respondents found using open questions easy or very easy to use and 77.8% of
respondents found using open questions useful. The ease of use and usefulness of
open and closed questions were reflected in the following comments, "It helped me
focus on what the other person was saying and "Skills were useful.
Results indicate that 77.7% found identifying the problem using open and
closed questions easy or very easy to do and 77.7% found identifying the problem
using open and closed questions, useful or very useful. The following statements
support these results; It felt like the other person knew I was listening to them, It
was easy to talk and It helped the person open up.
Scaling the problem was found to be either easy or very easy to use by 77.8%
of respondents. However, respondents were divided with regard to its usefulness with
44.4 % finding scaling the problem either useful or very useful and 44.4% finding the
skill to be unhelpful. The following comments from focus group discussions suggest
that using a scaling question was an unfamiliar and somewhat unusual type of
questions. For example," The first time I said scale she thought I meant climb up
over the problem", and "The person recognised I was doing something different ".
The skill of determining a preferred position on the scale was found by 55.5%
of respondents to be, easy or very easy in helping their partner determine a preferred
position on the scale. However, 66.7% found the skill unhelpful or very unhelpful,
supported by the following comments, "The scale thing is weird" and (Its)
unfamiliar".
Visualising a goal for a positive outcome was a skill that 55.5% found either
very unhelpful or unhelpful. Comments reflected a feeling that helpers were left with

145
a sense of incompletion at the end of the conversation. "I didn't know how to finish
the conversation" and "I didn't really have a conversation".
In subgroup C (solution focussed counselling), respondents were divided with
regard to how difficult or how easy it was using the skill of discovering exceptions to
the problem; 33.3% found it either easy or very easy to use and 33.3% found it
difficult to use. Similarly, with regard to using the skill of discovering actions to
enable movement up the scale, respondents were divided about how difficult or how
easy it was to use; 33.3% found it easy to use and 33.3% found it difficult to use. The
following comments reflect respondents ambivalence seems like you're telling them
what to do. They know what they have got to do and then you tell them what to do but
they know already and so it's okay, and "It doesn't feel natural".
Results from subgroup D (Validation and enhancement of typical adolescent
helping behaviours). Results clearly indicate that skills used in subgroup D were both
easy to use and useful except for using open questions emphasising curiosity and
interest. Fifty-eight point three percent of respondents found using open questions
very difficult or difficult. Statements from focus group discussions suggested that
open questions are more suited to using later in the conversation, for example, "It was
hard to know what to ask because I hadn't gained much knowledge yet".
Discussion
The present study obtained information about what young people say and do
in conversation to help each other to feel better and deal with problems. It also
identified those counselling skills which were easy for young people to use in helping
conversations and which were useful because they were compatible with adolescent
helping skills and behaviours and compatible with the way young people typically

146
communicate with each other. In the following discussion the findings will be
discussed under headings pertaining to each of the research questions.
Research Question 1
Goals of counselling. In focus groups, the subjects were asked questions about
how they help each other. The results show that the goals young people have in
helping conversations are all consistent with the aims and goals of counselling and
counselling conversations as described in the counselling literature. For example,
Geldard and Geldard (2001) describe the goals of counselling as helping others to feel
better and to change; Wolfe and Dryden (1996) as enhancing the effectiveness and
well-being of individuals; Egan (1994), as helping others to manage debilitating
emotions and problem solving; Nelson-Jones (1997), as emotional healing and
developing personal growth skills and Sanders (1996), as improving well-being, a
greater sense of personal autonomy and resourcefulness and self understanding. It is
clear from the findings in the present study that the goals of a helping conversation for
young people include helping the person being helped to feel better, helping them to
solve problems and make decisions, and instilling hope and optimism.
The helping relationship. The findings show that young people share
comparable beliefs about the helping relationship to those described by Rogers (1965)
and Egan (1994). For example, Egan and Rogers describe helping as including
making and maintaining contact, listening and communicating, communicating
empathy, respect, trust, and confidentiality, being non-judgemental, understanding the
meaning of what the person is saying and deliberately communicating care and
attention to the person. Similarly, young people identified the categories of respect,
confidentiality, understanding, involvement, trust, personal disclosure, listening,

147
creating a safe relationship, making contact and reassurance as being important in the
helping relationship.
The study identified that young people show respect for others in a helping
relationship by being able to respect and cope with silence in the conversation and
allowing the person being helped space and time during the process of helping. They
also show respect by being non-judgemental. Adolescents in the study found it
difficult to cope with silence in the conversation. However, they managed to cope
with this difficulty by believing that by showing commitment to the helping process
the troubled person would eventually respond to their presence.
The present study identifies that adolescents believe that a safe relationship is
necessary through the exclusivity of a one-on-one relationship, with confidentiality
and privacy, for self-disclosure to occur. Otherwise the risks of disclosure in terms of
stigmatisation and exposure would become evident and constrain the disclosure
process. This is consistent with the communication literature where self-disclosure
was found to occur depending on the setting, and the target of the self-disclosure
(Rosenfeld & Kendrick, 1984).
Personal disclosure. Geldard and Geldard

(2001) claim that personal

disclosure by the person being helped is central to the counselling conversation if the
person is to feel better and find solutions to problems. Beaumont (1996), Chan (2001),
Henry, Reed, and McAllister (1995), Rotenberg (1995), Sullivan (1953), and Worcel
et al. (1999) believe that reciprocity in peer relationships is central to self-disclosure.
Buhrmester (1990) notes that adolescent peer friendships create an environment
where personal disclosure leads to social validation, social control, self-clarification,
and self-expression. The present study provided confirmation of this literature.

148
Personal self-disclosure as viewed by young people in the present study
included both breadth and depth of information shared. Personal disclosure was seen
to be cathartic as well as an antecedent to problem solving and decision-making. The
subjects believed that self-disclosure helped both the helper and the person being
helped to clarify beliefs, opinions, thoughts, attitudes and feelings by talking about
them, and self-disclosure served the purpose of self-validation, that is, disclosing
information with the hope of seeking agreement and confirmation of their belief. Selfdisclosure also served the purpose of increasing reciprocity in the helping
relationship, for example, personal information revealed by either the helper or the
person being helped triggered self-disclosure by the other person and guaranteed
equality in the helping relationship. In all instances it appeared that self-disclosure
could only occur in an atmosphere where confidentiality and trust could be preserved.
Consistent with previous research (Wilson & Deanne, 2001) the subjects repeatedly
suggested that other aspects central to the helping relationship such as respect, safety
and confidentiality were essential components of the helping relationship for young
people.
Adolescent conversational characteristics and behaviours. The present study
provides confirmation of a number of findings that other studies have identified
regarding the conversational and relational behaviours of young people. It extends
these findings to identify the conversational and relational behaviours of young
people in the specific situation where they are engaged in helping conversations with
peers.
As anticipated, the joint actions that adolescent peers undertake in their careerrelated conversations described by Young et al. (1999) have also been identified in the
present study as occurring in adolescent helping conversations. Young et al. identified

149
that through the act of conversation, adolescents define their individual position and
express their beliefs and values. They also proposed that the nature of adolescent
peer-peer relationships provides a non-threatening atmosphere in which adolescents
experience the freedom to explore ideas and options. They further suggest that in the
adolescent peer conversation goals are realised through equitable exchanges. The
interactive nature of their conversation also allows them to re-examine and adjust
their respective positions. After examining the results, and on reflection, the
researcher concluded that the present study confirms the Young et al. findings. In the
current study, the repeated mention of conversational responses indicated that young
people regard conversation as meaningful helping behaviour among peers from the
point of view of both the helper and the person being helped. Transcript samples
suggest that the helping conversation described by young people represents a joint
action communication model that emphasises the degree of mutual influence that
occurs during the helping conversation. Put simply, the conversation isn't something
the helper does to the other; rather it is an activity they do together. The transactional
nature of communication during a helping conversation appears to arise from a
mutually reinforcing cycle. The quality of the relationship and the peers common
circumstances allow them to be mutually empathic and supportive.
It was expected that while some of the skills and behaviours used and
considered useful in a typical adolescent helping process would be the same as
described in the counselling literature, some would be different. The present study
confirms this expectation. The results from the present study support the literature
identifying the idiosyncratic nature of adolescent communication as described by
many authors (Chan, 2001; Noller, Feeney, & Peterson, 2001; Papini & Farmer, 1990;
Rafaelli & Duckett, 1989; Readdick & Mullis, 1997; Rotenberg, 1995; Turkstra,

150
2001; Worcel et al., 1999; Young et al., 1999) and validates the researchers
expectation that adolescents have distinct ways in which they use conversational
characteristics to achieve the goals of a helping conversation and an appropriate
helping relationship.
Some of the categories of helping behaviour identified in the present study are
incompatible with those suggested in the counselling literature. The counselling
literature generally, and authors of peer counsellor training programs, caution trainees
against using particular language and phrases that may communicate judgemental
thoughts. However, the current study shows that young people express empathy by
being strongly evaluative and persuasive. They do this by offering endorsements to
indicate the helpers solidarity with the situation being discussed, by sharing their
personal point of view, by giving advice and reassurance, and by making evaluative
responses. The study showed that statements that indicate agreement, loyalty,
affirmation, and declaring support for the other person are all ways in which young
people empathise with their peers. Additionally, strongly evaluative statements that
declared support for the other person or upheld and defended the other person to
indicate the helpers solidarity with the situation being discussed contributed to the
helper consolidating a close relationship with the other person.
These findings directly contrast with Egans (1994) helping approach which
strongly suggests that non-evaluative skills such as reflecting thoughts, behaviours
and feelings are preferable in a helping relationship. Additionally, these findings
conflict with ideas about empathy described in the communication literature. For
example, Adler et al. (2001) contend that empathising is evident when non-evaluative
responses are made which are somewhat reflective in nature such as "I know how
important that was to you", "I can see that really worries you". It is clear from the

151
study that adolescents do not use non-evaluative responses to communicate empathy
and understanding. They use categories of helping behaviour identified in the present
study but discouraged in the helping literature (Carr & Saunders, 1980; de Rosenroll,
1988; Morey & Miller, 1993; Myrick & Sorensen, 1988; Painter, 1989; Tindall, 1989;
Turner, 1999) such as offering endorsements, praising, recommending, sympathising,
advice giving, reassurance, emotional regulation, and involvement. These are used to
indicate that the helper is clearly able to understand their peers problem and to
establish a climate which is supportive, empathic and non-judgemental. In particular,
sharing of personal experiences indicated that the helper understood their peers
problem. Offering endorsements was used as a way of being empathic or taking the
other persons perspective and occurred when the helper wanted to show that they
identified with the person being helped. Expressing empathy this way appeared to
contribute to and strengthen the transactional nature of the communication. It is clear
that the categories of offering endorsements and reassurance identified by subjects in
focus groups contrast with the literatures definition of empathising as the transcript
statements in these categories often reflect strongly evaluative responses.
Peer counsellor training. The findings of the present study conflict with much
of the literature on adolescent peer helper training.

In this literature, some

communication processes are described as communication stoppers or roadblocks


to communicating. Carr and Saunders (1980), Painter (1989), Sanders (1999) and
Tindall (1989) believe that these communication stoppers or roadblocks are
behaviours, which, although they appear to be helpful, are actually responses that are
negative in effect and retard helpful interpersonal relationships.

Consequently,

adolescent peer helpers have been actively encouraged to recognise roadblocks and
communication stoppers and to learn new behaviours to use in their place. Responses

152
such as persuading, advising, recommending, praising, supporting, sympathising,
diverting, and kidding, are all described as roadblocks and communication stoppers
and have been actively discouraged.
Research question 2
The present study identified those counselling microskills that young people
found easy to use and helpful with regard to establishing and maintaining a helping
relationship and those skills that maximised opportunities for self-disclosure.
Important discoveries with regard to the participants use of the counselling
microskills of active listening, instilling hope and optimism and problem solving will
be discussed under the respective headings.
Active listening skills. Most peer helper training programs include the
acquisition of the basic counselling skills of active listening (Carr & Saunders,
1980; de Rosenroll, 1988; Morey & Miller, 1993; Myrick & Sorensen, 1988; Painter,
1989; Tindall, 1989; Turner, 1999). As described in the literature, major components
of active listening are listening, use of non-verbal behaviour, minimal responses,
reflection of content, reflection of feeling, and summarising. These skills were used to
train subjects in subgroup A.
In the present study some components of "active listening" were found to be
helpful whereas others were not. Listening was found to be an essential part of the
conversational nature of helping from the point of view of both the helper and the
person being helped supporting the peer counsellor training focus. Listening was a
behaviour which the subjects believed provided an opportunity for personal selfdisclosure to occur during a conversation. The way the helper listened enabled them
to get desired results from others in a manner that maintained the relationship and on
terms that were acceptable to both parties.

153
As anticipated, the results indicate that young people found using the skills of
reflection of content, reflection of feeling, and to some extent summarising, difficult
and unhelpful in helping conversations with their peers. The findings of the present
study support the difficulties identified in peer counsellor training programs for young
people (de Rosenroll, 1988). The reported difficulties have been identified as
including problems with reciprocity, among adolescent peer helpers. Adolescent peer
helpers also have reported experiencing problems when initially trying to use the
facilitative counselling skills of reflection in a helping conversation (Carr & Saunders,
1980). The current study confirms these difficulties when using these skills and
strongly suggests that the teaching of reflective listening skills in adolescent peer
counsellor training programs is inappropriate and unhelpful.
No respondents found the use of summarising useful and, on reflection, the
researcher concluded that respondents found it difficult to contain their summaries
without extending them to include the giving of advice. Generally, the skills taught in
subgroup A were distracting for helpers because they are so different from typical
adolescent responses and because they interfere with the flow of the helping
conversation. Additionally, transcribed comments suggest that the peer helpers felt
de-skilled in their natural helping behaviours when using these skills.
Consistent with the counselling and peer counsellor training literature (Egan,
1982; Geldard & Geldard, 2001; Myrick & Sorensen, 1988; Nelson-Jones, 1997;
Painter, 1989; Rogers, 1965; Sanders, 1996; Tindall, 1989; Wolfe & Dryden, 1996)
listening to others was considered to be a factor contributing to the emotional well
being of others in the helping conversation. Subjects in the present study indicated
agreement with the literature that listening generally needed to be accompanied by
responses that indicated that the helper has heard and understood the problem.

154
Subjects confirmed that the use of minimal responses and non-verbal communication
skills as used in the "active listening" process were useful in helping conversations.
However, although minimal responses and non-verbal communication skills were
considered to be useful, the findings suggest that young people prefer to use direct
strategies to help their peers to feel better. This became clear following subgroup D
training which involved validation and enhancement of typical adolescent helping
behaviours.
Rather than using the skills of reflecting and summarising, the subjects in the
present study preferred to help their peers to feel better by providing emotional
regulation using distinct skills or strategies such as reassurance, understanding
through sharing similar personal experiences, communicating endorsements and by
digressing or distracting. Responses from subjects in the present study indicated that
helpers are aware of using these direct approaches. When using these approaches
what they do in helping conversations is to self-monitor. Self-monitoring is a process
of paying close attention to one's behaviour and using self-observations to shape the
way one communicates. This self-monitoring process increases one's effectiveness as
a communicator (Kolb, 1988; Sypher & Sypher, 1983).
Instilling hope and optimism. An unexpected finding in the present study was
the emphasis young people placed on instilling hope and optimism in the helping
conversation. Hope and optimism are processes used in varying degrees by most
people to cope with daily life.

Counselling has been found to enhance the

contribution of the hope factor in helping the client to feel better and to change
(Snyder et al., 1999). However, very little is known about how to instil hope and
optimism in the person being helped, particularly in differing populations (Herth &
Cutcliffe, 2002). Some authors suggest that hope is interwoven with caring and the

155
helping relationship (Cutcliffe, 1997). Frank and Frank (1991) suggest two additional
processes that instil hope and optimism in the client during the counselling process.
Firstly, they identify a counsellor who is hopeful as a factor contributing to a client's
sense of hope and optimism. Secondly, the explanation that the counsellor gives about
why the client is experiencing the presenting symptoms and the plausibility of this
rationale to the client also leads to the client's sense of hope in the future. The
specific strategies for conveying this hope are not fully understood but are seen to be
the result of a covert process occurring perhaps through the process of emotional
transference. The phenomena of emotional transference is well established within
counselling literature, usually in terms of the feeling the counsellor picks up from the
client and there is some suggestion that clients are able to "pick up " and "take on
board" the emotions projected into the counselling atmosphere by the counsellor
(Cutcliffe, 2004).
Consistent with the literature, the young people in the present study were
found to instil hope and optimism in their peers during a helping conversation using
all three processes suggested in the literature. These processes involve using the
helping relationship, being hopeful and giving explanations about why the other
person is experiencing the current problem. Additionally, the findings from subgroup
D (validation and enhancement of typical adolescent helping behaviours) show that
young people are openly direct and intentionally project their optimism and hope into
the helping conversation by disclosing their own sense of optimism and hope. Young
people project their optimism through reassurance and support by giving messages to
remove doubts or fears, give comfort, approve, and encourage.
Results from subgroup D (validation and enhancement of typical adolescent
helping behaviours) confirm that the responses such as persuading, advising,

156
recommending, praising, supporting, sympathising, diverting and kidding are all
communication processes which are an expected part of adolescent helping
conversations and are perceived by adolescents to be helpful. This is not only with
regard to the helping relationship but also with regard to the goals of helping the other
person to feel better, solve problems and make decisions, and to instil hope and
optimism.
With regard to the strategy which involves providing an explanation of why
the person may be feeling the way they are, findings in the present study show that
adolescent peer helpers do this by sharing ideas from their own personal experiences.
They talk about their known experience of success in overcoming a similar problem.
Their intention being to impart a sense of hope for the future. Additionally, the
findings show that sometimes the adolescent helper will give their opinion about why
they think the person being helped feels the way they do, by providing another point
of view. The plausibility of their logic then leads to a sense of hope in the future.
Instilling hope often means finding out and affirming what it is that the person
really wants or desires and facilitating personal agency (Snyder et al., 1999). The
findings in the present study support the importance of personal agency in the helping
conversations. The subjects in the present study demonstrated their awareness of how
important it is to be in charge of their own lives through identifying the need for
collaboration between themselves and the young person being helped. Collaboration
contributes to the personal agency of the young person being helped thereby instilling
hope in future outcomes.
Problem solving. When approached with anothers problem the most common
reaction is advising (Notarius & Herrick,1998). The present study confirms that this
reaction also applies to adolescents as findings show that giving advice is expected as

157
something likely to occur in a helping conversation when young people help each
other. Advice is most welcome under two conditions: when it has been requested, and
when the adviser respects the readiness of the recipient to receive advice (Goldsmith
& Fitch, 1997; Goldsmith & MacGeorge, 2000). Additionally, it has been found that
while advice may be a potentially problematic way to respond to someone who is
distressed, Goldsmith and McGeorge (2000) suggest that the use of politeness
strategies can mitigate threat and enhance the effectiveness of advice messages. The
authors identify that giving advice depends on the power of the speaker over the
listener, and the social distance between speaker and listener. They identify that
adding material that acknowledges that the information being offered is personal
advice mitigates issues with regard to power and social distance. For example, the use
of in-group language, informal address terms, giving reasons for, or positive
consequences of an action, presupposing knowledge or common ground and
expressing understanding or sympathy with the listener are responses which the
listener accepts when receiving advice about a problem. Findings from the present
study confirm that young people recognise the importance of these conditions.
Researcher reflections of the data detect that for young people ambiguous statements
and the announcement of a problem are signals that advice is being sought. While
these signals are indirect, they are recognised as requests for advice or input from the
helper by both the helper and person being helped. Findings confirm that young
people proceed confidently in the conversation by offering advice or opinions because
they believe that the person being helped will not take the advice unless it fits for
them. This belief is confirmed in the present study. Young people respect the
readiness of the person being helped by recognising that while a particular course of
action worked for them it may not be right for someone else. Additionally, young

158
people recognise that the choice and responsibility for accepting suggestions and
advice is up to the person requesting help. Findings in the present study show that
rather than being ambivalent about giving advice as a way of helping others to solve
their problems, young people are very clear about the circumstances under which
advice should be given. They are very conscious of the perils of giving advice and
their rules about when, and when not, to give advice fit well within the conditions that
support the usefulness of advice giving as described by Goldsmith (2000), Goldsmith
and Fitch (1997) and Goldsmith and MacGeorge (2000).
In her research in peer collaboration and discourse patterns in learning
situations, Chan (2001) indicated the importance of collaborative explanation in
adolescent conversation. She extended existing research in characterising differing
conversational patterns that deepen or suppress students communication and found
that the use of the components of problem recognition, question formulation and
explanation promoted peer collaboration in conversation.

This process seemed

particularly important in collaborative conceptual change as peers scaffolded each


other to construct explanations and generate alternative hypotheses. In the present
study young people recognised that advice giving occurred within a process of
collaborative problem solving confirming Chans findings.

Transcript comments

from focus groups indicated that young people believe that working together to find
solutions and make decisions allowed the person being helped to stay in control of
solving the problem or making a decision. Both the helper and the person being
helped acknowledged the simultaneous role of the helper in facilitating the problem
solving process. In the present study following training in subgroup B (Reality
Therapy) and subgroup C (Solution focussed counselling) findings show that young
people find a step-by-step process of problem solving easy to use. However, it was

159
found that a step-by-step process that does not incorporate opportunities for giving
advice, sharing another point of view, and personal sharing of similar experiences was
confusing and unsatisfying for the helper and did not contribute to a collaborative
conceptual exchange.
The researchers recorded observations during focus group discussions post
subgroup training suggested that uncertainty about using the complete step-by-step
process of problem solving from either subgroup B or subgroup C appeared to relate
to a lack of opportunity to use typical adolescent helping skills to deepen the
conversational partners communication in the way described by Chan (2001). The
step by step process used to train subjects in subgroups B and C focused on teaching
students either a five or seven-step process of problem solving which included the use
of open and closed questions but did not encourage participants to give advice, or
describe their own past experiences which could be taken as suggestions on how to
solve the problem. Additionally, subgroup B training emphasised a facilitative
problem solving process where the helper guides the person through a sequence of
steps aimed at facilitating personal agency in resolving the problem. On reflection the
researcher concluded that subjects found that this process emphasised the helpers
role as someone with a set agenda rather than as a reciprocal partner in the problem
solving process. Interestingly, this problem solving process is used in the peer
counsellor training programs described in the literature. Findings from the present
study indicate that this problem solving process contributes to difficulties identified
by de Rosenroll (1988) with regard to status differences among adolescent peer
helpers (see chapter two). It is clear that using this specific problem solving process is
unsuitable for inclusion in adolescent peer counsellor training programs.

160
Training in subgroup C focussed exclusively on using questions to enhance
personal agency through connecting with the person's resources and strengths which
ultimately lead to discovering a solution to the problem. Researcher reflections noted
that because of the strong use of questions, in subgroup C training and, because of the
indirect process of solution finding, helpers were left with a sense of incompletion at
the end of a conversation and a sense of lack of involvement in the conversation. The
reliance on questions only during the solution focussed process, and the indirect
approach to solving a problem both appear to limit and weaken the transactional
nature of the helping conversation from the helpers point of view.
Although both of the step-by-step problem solving processes used in
subgroups B and C enable the conversational partners to focus on problem
recognition, question formulation and explanation suggested by Chan (2001), the
step-by-step process did not provide an opportunity to promote collaborative
conceptual change or opportunity to scaffold each other so that explanations could be
constructed and alternative hypotheses generated.
Conclusion
The present study confirms findings from previous studies that identify that
young people demonstrate idiosyncratic conversational skills and behaviours when
communicating with their peers. It confirms that young people have the same goals
and concept of the helping relationship as described in counselling literature. It
extends prior research by detailing the specific conversational skills and relational
behaviours valued and used by adolescents in helping conversations with their peers,
in particular those skills which facilitate self-disclosure and reciprocity in the helping
relationship. The findings of the present study indicate that adolescents prefer to

161
create empathy through the use of strongly evaluative and persuasive responses rather
than using non-evaluative responses.
The present study confirms the ease of use and usefulness of some counselling
microskills included in current peer counsellor training programs with adolescents. It
also identifies those counselling microskills used in current adolescent peer counsellor
training programs which young people find difficult to use or unhelpful in helping
conversations with their peers. Of particular importance is the finding that reflective
listening skills were perceived by young people as being difficult to use and
unhelpful.
Current programs suggest that some typical adolescent conversational skills
used by young people should be actively discouraged when helping their peers and
that new skills should be learnt and used in their place. The present study provides
strong support for the suggestion that rather than being unhelpful, the typical
conversational skills used by young people in helping conversations are in fact useful
responses that are not negative in effect and do not retard helpful interpersonal
relationships among their peers in helping conversations.
It is clear from the findings of the study that, for young people, the
transactional nature of a helping conversation, which includes self-disclosure, is
important and that some counselling microskills contribute more to this than others.
Similarly, the findings reflect the importance of the timing and sequence of using the
skills during the conversation so that the transactional nature of the conversation and
reciprocity in the relationship is preserved.
An unexpected finding was that adolescents place a strong emphasis on
instilling hope and optimism. Additionally, young people find that advice giving is
useful subject to conditions, which they understand.

162
Step-by-step problem solving processes interfere with the transactional nature
of adolescent conversational processes.

Additionally, they create problems with

regard to status difference as a result of skill acquisition. The findings support the
development of a problem solving process that does not compromise the
conversational nature of helping or interfere with the reciprocity of the relationship.
Respondents reflected a sense of being de-skilled in the use of natural helping
behaviours while learning new counselling microskills. This has implications with
regard to designing effective programs to train young people as peer counsellors.
Because of these findings it was decided that the training program in Study 2 would
not focus on training peer counsellors in specific counselling microskills. Instead the
training program would focus on the "process" of a helping conversation and how to
incorporate those counselling microskills that young people find easy to use and
useful into typical adolescent helping behaviour. In Study 2, peer counsellors were
trained using a model where the emphasis was on enhancing the process of a typical
adolescent helping conversation rather than incorporating typical adolescent
behaviours into a skill based training program. The extent to which the
implementation of the findings from the present study address the issues of skill
implementation, role attribution and status differences were evaluated in Study 2.

163
CHAPTER 7
Study 2 Qualitative Data Results and Discussion
Study 2 continues to address the topic of adolescent peer counselling by addressing
the following research questions (question three to five of the project):
Research Questions
3. How does a new adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program affect the
participants experiences as peer counsellors with regard to skill implementation, role
attribution and status?
4. How does a new adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program, influence peer
counsellors emotional competence, self-concept, and the coping strategies used?
5. Does a new adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program influence peer
counsellors perceptions of the current school climate?
An adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program was developed and used as
the intervention in this study to address the research questions. The program is considered to
be an alternative to current adolescent peer counsellor training programs because it combines
the use of typical adolescent helping behaviours and communication processes with specific
counselling skills from adult counselling models and approaches identified by young people
as valuable, helpful and easy to use. This training model contrasts with current training
programs which are based on the assumption that teaching effective helping skills from adult
counselling models is best done in discrete and finite blocks, each with a beginning and an
end, and then integrating all that has been learned (Carr & Saunders, 1980; de Rosenroll,
1988; Myrick & Sorensen, 1988; Painter, 1989; Tindall, 1989). The adolescent helping
behaviours and communication processes and the specific counselling skills from adult
counselling models and approaches incorporated into the program were identified by the
participants in Study 1 as being valuable, helpful and easy to use. The peer counsellor

164
training program developed was designed in collaboration with the subjects of the study
using an intervention research process.
Research Question 3
In this chapter, the results of data collected using qualitative measures to address
research question three will be reported and discussed. In the following chapter (chapter
eight) the results of data collected using quantitative measures to addresses research
questions four and five will be reported and discussed.
Participants
Study 2 initially comprised 27 subjects (20 females and seven males) who had
completed training in Study 1 in specific counselling microskills in any one of the subgroups
A, B, C or D. During Study 2, seven subjects dropped out of the program leaving 20 (15
females and five males) to complete the study. The final group comprised six females from
grade eight with a mean age of 12.6 years, three females and three males from grade nine
with a mean age of 13 years, two females from grade 10 with a mean age of 14.6 years, and
four females and two males from grade 11 with a mean age of 15.5 years.
Description of the Intervention
The findings from Study 1 influenced the design of the training model used as the
intervention in Study 2. In Study 1, it was found that subjects believed that they were deskilled in the use of their natural helping behaviours when learning new and different
counselling microskills and that the majority of skills, which subjects found both easy to use
and useful, were those used in subgroup D (subgroup D focused on the validation and
enhancement of typical adolescent helping skills). It was also found that the subjects
believed that the transactional model of communicating during the helping conversation was
important and that the timing when using skills and sequence of the conversation contributed
to reciprocity in the conversation. Study 1 discovered that the themes of understanding,

165
confidentiality, trust, and a safe relationship were seen to be essential tenets of the helping
relationship.
To overcome the difficulty experienced by subjects with regard to feeling deskilled
in their natural helping behaviours, it was decided that the training model in this study
should not follow typical peer helper training program models. Most peer helper training
programs focus on training peer counsellors in each specific facilitative counselling
microskill following a problem solving model and then integrating all that has been learned
(Carr & Saunders, 1980; de Rosenroll, 1988; Egan, 1994; Myrick & Sorensen, 1988; Painter,
1989; Tindall, 1989). Instead, a training process was adopted that matched current trends in
the psychology of educating adolescents, (Boekaerts, 2002) as discussed in chapter 2. The
training model developed aimed to encourage subjects to become aware of their goals as
helpers, to generate thoughts, feelings, and actions in order to obtain their goals, and to work
systematically toward the attainment of their goals using their typical conversational skills
and processes with useful counselling microskills. It was decided to retain the personal
growth aspects of typical adolescent peer counsellor training models in the training process.
Study 1 found that the conversational nature of a helping conversation was essential,
and that using new and unfamiliar counselling skills was deskilling in that it led to
participants focusing on unfamiliar language and processes of communication. Additionally,
training programs which rely on a model where specific counselling microskills are taught in
discrete and finite blocks and then integrated, have not successfully eliminated the
difficulties of skill implementation, status difference and role attribution (Carr, 1984; de
Rosenroll, 1988). Because of these findings, the researcher decided to use the process of a
helping conversation as the underlying context for the training program rather than teaching
specific skills in an attempt to eliminate these difficulties. Within this context, counselling

166
microskills that young people find easy to use and useful were introduced in a way that
enabled them to be included within a typical adolescent helping conversation.
The training model was developed using an intervention research framework. The
subjects were trained as peer counsellors while implementing the findings identified in Study
1 and while monitoring the training with regard to the ongoing learning needs of the subjects
in the training group. During weekly training sessions, the trainers modelled the process of
an adolescent helping conversation, using helpful and useful adolescent helping skills. As
well, the experience of counselling and being helped was simulated by subjects in helping
conversations using role-plays. The role-play topics were selected by the subjects and agreed
upon by the whole group as being issues relevant to young people. Role-plays made it
possible for the researcher and participants to reflect and to seek specific feedback regarding
the developmental stages of a helping conversation, to identify which typical adolescent
counselling microskills could be used and to take into account the ease with which the
subjects could incorporate specific helpful counselling microskills into the helping
conversation. Additionally, the feedback regarding the interaction between the helper and the
person being helped during the conversation was obtained.
Feedback focused on whether the helping conversation was helpful or unhelpful with
regard to whether the person being helped could self-disclose and feel comfortable and the
peer counsellors perceptions of whether they achieved positive outcomes as a result of the
conversation. Findings contributed to the ongoing development of the training program. The
training program involved 12 weeks of training. The researcher and a research assistant, a
psychologist with experience in facilitating groups with young people, provided 13.5 hours
of peer counsellor training with six training sessions of 35 minutes duration alternating with
six training sessions of one hour and 40 minutes duration. An additional 2 hours was
required for each subject to participate in four helping conversations. Two conversations

167
were used to assess each participant with regard to their counselling skills. Participants were
also required to fulfil the role of a person needing help using a personal problem of their own
in two conversations. The researcher provided feedback to the peer counsellor on completion
of each assessment conversation to ensure ethical accountability, and to award each subject
accreditation as a peer counsellor in the school community. A full outline of the adolescent
peer counsellor training program finally developed is presented in Appendix I.
On completion of training, participants engaged in the process of counselling their
peers. Fortnightly meetings were held with the researcher and the school counsellor. Group
meetings were constructed so that the whole group would meet together and then be divided
into two groups according to their developmental stage (either early or late adolescence), that
is grades eight and nine and grades 10 and 11. Group meetings ensured that participants did
not attempt to handle problems that were beyond their capabilities. Group meetings were
unstructured and provided opportunities for participants to meet together and to share their
experiences of peer counselling.
Procedure and measures
Focus groups and open-ended survey items were used to address research question
three. Data from focus groups and open-ended surveys provided information related to the
peer counsellors experience of becoming a peer counsellor and in particular about each
participants experience as a peer counsellor with regard to skill implementation, role
attribution and status. In Study 2 focus group discussions were conducted immediately postintervention (T2), at three months post-intervention (T3) and again at six months (T4). Focus
group discussions were audio taped and were transcribed verbatim. As in Study 1, Morgan
and Krueger's (1998) phenomenological methodology was used to identify and organise
themes from the data gathered. Commonalities that reflected and lay beneath the essential
meaning of the phenomenon of helping and being helped were used to describe the helping

168
experience. Open-ended surveys were conducted at the same times, transcribed, and data
was examined using emergent theme analysis from survey responses.
To discover whether the peer counsellor training program influenced participants
emotional competence, The Self Report Emotional Competence Questionnaire (Schutte, et
al, 1998) was completed. To assess the self-concept of participants, each student completed
the Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale

(Piers, Harris, & Herzberg, 1984). The

Adolescent Coping Scale (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993) was used to identify the coping
strategies used by participants and a School Climate Survey developed by the researcher was
used to identify participants perceptions of the current school climate.
Time 1
To discover whether the peer counsellor training program influenced participants
emotional competence, their self-concept, their choice of coping strategies, and their
perceptions of school climate the four measures outlined above were first administered prior
to training in Study 1 (T1).
Time 2
To discover the way participants experienced themselves as peer counsellors, focus
group discussions and open-ended surveys were used to collect data immediately following
the 12 week training intervention (T2). Three mixed gender focus group discussions were
conducted with six participants in one group and seven in the other two groups. Each group
was matched as closely as possible to contain equal numbers of students from each grade.
Two of the focus group discussions were moderated by the researcher and one by the
research assistant and were unstructured allowing subjects to respond in their own words.
To discover whether the peer counsellor training program influenced participants
emotional competence, their self-concept, their choice of coping strategies, and their

169
perceptions of school climate immediately following training, the four measures outlined
above were administered at T2.
Time 3
To discover the way participants experience themselves as peer counsellors at three
months post-intervention (T3), focus group discussions and open-ended surveys were again
used. As a result of feedback from focus group discussions at T2, subjects were divided into
two groups according to their developmental stage (either early or late adolescence). At T3
one mixed gender focus group was moderated by the researcher and conducted with 10
subjects from grades eight and nine (early adolescents). The other mixed gender focus group
was moderated by the research assistant and conducted with seven subjects from grades 10
and 11 (late adolescents).
To discover whether the peer counsellor training program and acting in the role of
peer counsellor influenced participants emotional competence, their self-concept, their
choice of coping strategies, and their perceptions of school climate at three months following
training, the four measures outlined above were administered at T3.
Time 4
To discover the way participants experienced themselves as peer counsellors at six
months post-intervention (T4), focus group discussions, and open-ended surveys were used.
At T4 two mixed gender focus group discussions were conducted. One focus group was
moderated by the researcher and conducted with eight early adolescent subjects and the
research assistant moderated the other focus group with six late adolescents subjects.
The four measures outlined above were administered at T4 to assess changes in the
peer counsellors perceptions of emotional competence, self-concept, choice of coping
strategies, and school climate.

170
The researchers reflections and field notes were recorded in a journal and were used
to reflect upon data gathered from training sessions, focus group discussions, and openended surveys. In this project it was assumed that the researcher could contribute data as
well as analysis by viewing the research findings through a personal and professional
theoretical lens and then linking and weaving together insights developed in a number of
different ways.
Table 7.1 summarises the data gathering procedures used in this study, at what times
they were used and with which subjects.
Table 7.1
Data gathering procedures, times used and subjects included.
Data gathering
process

Pre-intervention
prior to Study 1
T1

Focus groups

Immediately postintervention
T2

Three months postintervention


T3

Six months postintervention


T4

Group 1 mixed
gender, n = 6

Group 1 early
adolescents, mixed
gender, n = 10

Group 1 early
adolescents, mixed
gender, n = 8

Group 2 mixed
gender, n = 6

Group 2 late
adolescents, mixed
gender, n = 7

Group 2 late
adolescents, mixed
gender, n = 6

N=17

N=14

N=17

Group 3 mixed
gender, n = 7
Open-ended surveys
The Self Report
Emotional
Competence Survey

N=17

N=17

N=17

N=17

Piers-Harris
Childrens Selfconcept Scale

N=17

N=17

N=17

N=17

Adolescent Coping
Scale

N=17

N=17

N=17

N=17

School Climate
Survey

N=17

N=17

N=17

N=17

Researcher
reflections

N=20

N=20

N=20

N=20

171
Results of Qualitative Data
Results of qualitative data are now reported and discussed, with quantitative data
results reported and discussed in chapter 8. Research question three was concerned with how
the adolescent peer counsellor training program which was developed in this study affected
the subjects experience of themselves as a peer counsellor. In particular, it sought to
discover how the training program affected their perception of themselves as peer
counsellors with regard to skill implementation, role attribution and status. To discover the
way participants experienced themselves as peer counsellors, focus group discussions and
open-ended surveys were used to collect data immediately following the 12 weeks training
intervention (T2), three months post-intervention (T3) and six months post-intervention
(T4). Open-ended surveys and verbatim transcripts from focus group discussion audiotapes
were examined to extract words, concepts, and descriptions that were conceptually similar
and these responses were then combined to form categories. Interpreting which responses
should receive the most emphasis was decided by how many groups or open-ended surveys
mentioned the topic, how many people within each of the groups mentioned the topic and
how much energy and enthusiasm the topic generated among the participants. Categories
with responses mentioned less than three times were omitted as it was felt that those
category responses did not generate high levels of energy or enthusiasm among the
participants or reflect accurately the issues relating to skill implementation, role attribution
or status. Grouping together the categories to form more precise and complete explanations
about the phenomena of skill implementation, role attribution and status contributed to the
formation of themes. Themes and categories were recorded under the headings of skill
implementation, role attribution and status.

172
Skill implementation
Themes and categories under this heading include the responses from open-ended
surveys and focus group discussions which described the participants experience as a peer
counsellor when using counselling skills in a helping conversation, from their experience of
receiving help during training and assessment conversations, and their predictions about how
their peers might respond when receiving help from peer counsellors. Themes and categories
reflecting the participants experiences of skill implementation at T2, T3 and T4 are
summarised in Tables 7.2 to 7.4.
Time 2 Immediately post-intervention
While peer counsellors had experimented with using skills in a helping conversation
during training they had not been formally introduced as peer helpers into the wider school
community at T2. The themes are arranged in descending order of frequency of mention and
both themes and categories are reported as percentages of the responses collected. The
themes and categories identified under the heading of Skill implementation at T2 are
summarised in Table 7.2. Results are reported under theme headings.

173
Table 7.2
Skill implementation themes, categories and percentage of responses at T2

Themes

1. Most useful
skills

Responses
for the
theme
%

59

Categories

Open questions to explore current


situation
Offering suggestions
Exploring options and choices
Self-disclosure
Giving advice based on similar
experiences
Reassuring/affirming

Peer
Counsellor
Responses
(% Within
each
theme)

Predicted
responses
from peers
(% Within
each
theme)

32

34

20
16
16
12

21
8
4
17

13
100

2. Using the
counselling
skills and
process

26

Conversational and transactional


communication

100

3. The training
experience

15

Attainment
Limitations

62
38

Note. Total number of responses = 83. 59% of responses focused on comments regarding the usefulness of
individual skills, 26% of responses focused on using the skills, and 15% of responses focused on the training
experience.

Most useful skills. This theme included categories referring to the skills and processes
found to be the most important and useful in the conversation. Responses referring to open
questions to explore the current situation and offering suggestions were more frequently
mentioned as the skills that were particularly valuable for the peer counsellor and perceived
as being valuable for their peers.
Responses indicating input from the peer counsellor in the form of self-disclosure
(16%) and exploring options and choices (16%) were more frequently mentioned by peer
counsellors as valuable for them, but not predicted by peer counsellors as being valuable for
their peers (self-disclosure, 4%) and (exploring options and choices, 8%).
In contrast giving advice (17% of responses) and reassuring/affirming (13% of
responses) were predicted by peer counsellors as more valuable for their peers than for the

174
peer counsellor. Four of the six items most frequently mentioned are typical adolescent
helping skills enhanced during the training program.
The two microcounseling skills most valued by peer counsellors and seen as helpful
for recipients from the peer counsellors perspective were identified as open questions to
explore the current situation and exploring options and choices. Both the skills were
identified in Study 1 as being helpful, useful and easy to use and were introduced into the
training program
Using the counselling skills and processes. The category of conversational and
transactional communication accounted for all of the responses recorded from participants
in this theme. Transcribed words such as relaxed, casual and statements such as
...going with the flow described peer counsellors perceptions of the value of this process
when using the counselling skills and processes, and ...it felt like I was trying to solve my
own problems was a typical responses from their peers perspective.
The training experience. The categories included in this theme consisted of responses
reflecting the peer counsellors satisfaction with the skills available to them as well as their
awareness of and confidence in using either the skills or process of helping conversation.
The responses suggest that the majority of peer counsellors indicated satisfaction
with the basic counselling skills and processes available to them following the training.
These responses are reflected in the category of attainments (62%) and are illustrated by
the following examples; Im more confident in helping people and know what I'm doing
now instead of just saying words, "(I am) more confident now knowing I've got more skills
to rely on" and "the things I actually say to help my friends actually mean something now,
like I'm actually doing something more than just... it works".
However, some responses (38%) from peer counsellors indicated dissatisfaction with
the basic counselling skills and processes available to them as reflected in the category of

175
limitations and illustrated in the following examples; ...basically a lot of skills we learned
were natural skills like what you already know", and "I would like to learn some things that
aren't just commonsense things and not just the ways that we already help people".
Researcher reflections of transcripts concluded that these responses indicate individual
differences in competence with regard to prosocial behaviour as well as an expectation for
some peer counsellors that peer counselling is a complex process. There was no evidence of
participants feeling de-skilled in their helping skills, although the results indicated a slight
difference between the levels of satisfaction experienced by peer counsellors with regard to
counselling conversations.
Time 3 - three months post-intervention
Peer counsellors had used conversational helping skills in helping conversations and
had been formally introduced as peer counsellors into the wider school community for three
months at T3. The responses from open-ended surveys and focus group discussions were
recorded separately for early adolescent peer counsellors (grades eight and nine) and for late
adolescent peer counsellors (grades 10 and 11).
Themes and categories under this heading include references to the skills processes
and the training experience and the participants experience of executing those skills and
processes in the helping conversation. The themes are arranged in descending order of
frequency of mention, and both themes and categories are reported as percentages of the
responses collected.
The themes identified under the heading of Skill implementation at T3 are
summarised in Table 7.3. Results are reported under theme headings.

176
Table 7.3
Skill implementation themes, categories and percentage of responses at T3

Themes

Responses for
the theme
%

Categories

Early
adolescent
responses
(% Within
each theme)

Late
adolescent
responses
(% Within
each theme)

1. Training
components most
valued and
preferred

51

Skills
Process of a conversation

54
46

46
54

2. Skill use

46

Combining skills with process


Complexity of issues

73
27

100

Note. Total number of response = 93. 51% of responses focused on the training components most valued and
preferred, 46% of responses focused on skill use.

Training components most valued and preferred. The categories in this theme
include responses that reflect the participants emphasis or focus during a helping
conversation with regard to using counselling skills. There were an overall high percentage
of responses from both groups contributing to the categories of skills and process of a
conversation.
Participants within each group were divided with regard to which components they
found the most valuable, for example, I think the skills helped most cause I already knew
how to have a conversation, having a helping conversation is easier now cause we have
skills to stop awkward silences and stuff that make the conversation harder as opposed to
I think the way the conversation goes (is most valuable) cause the skills you can put in
anywhere, but like, you have to put them in a certain way to make it actually feel
comfortable to talk and its a lot easier to handle conversations cause you know where
you are going or you can feel it,
Skill use. The high percentage of responses from late adolescent peer counsellors
which focussed on the topic of combining skills with process (100%) indicated a
preference for combining both skills and process during the conversation compared with

177
early adolescent peer counsellors which made up 73% of the responses. Researcher
reflections on the data concluded that the relatively even distribution of responses between
skills, the process of a conversation, and combining skills with process indicated the
participants awareness of the difference between skills and process and individual
differences with regard to the flexibility and freedom when using any of the components.
Time 4 -six months post-intervention
Peer counsellors had used conversational helping skills in helping conversations for
six months following training and had been acting as peer counsellors into the wider school
community for six months at T4. The responses from open-ended surveys and focus group
discussions were recorded separately for early adolescent peer counsellors (grades eight and
nine) and for late adolescent peer counsellors (grades 10 and 11).
Themes and categories under this heading include references to the skills processes
and the training experience and the participants experience of executing those skills and
processes in the helping conversation. The themes are arranged in descending order of
frequency of mention and both themes and categories are reported as percentages of the
responses collected.
The themes identified under the heading of Skill implementation at T4 are
summarised in Table 7.4 Results are reported under theme headings.

178
Table 7.4
Skill implementation themes, categories and percentage of responses at T4

Themes

Responses
for the
theme
%

1. Skill awareness

53.5

2. Skill use

46.5

Categories

Raised awareness of skill use


Raised awareness of helping opportunities

Early
adolescent
responses
(% Within
each theme)

Late adolescent
responses
(% Within each
theme)

67
33

40
60

Integrating skills into typical adolescent


100
100
conversation
Note. Total number of responses = 56. 53.5% of responses focused on discussion regarding skill awareness,
46.5% of responses focused on using the skills.

Skill awareness. The categories included in this theme consisted of responses


reflecting the participants awareness of helping opportunities and awareness of using the
skills, in a helping conversation. Results indicate that early adolescent peer counsellors (67%
of responses) were more aware of using the skills during a helping conversation compared
to late adolescent peer counsellors (40% of responses). Typical responses from early
adolescent peer counsellors include I have been in situations where I have helped people
and used the skills I learned and been conscious of (using the skills).
Late adolescent peer counsellors responses (60%) focused more on their awareness
of opportunities when helping could occur, compared to early adolescent peer counsellors
responses (33%) as can be seen by the following examples, I always recognise when I am
in a helping conversation, being a peer counsellor enables me to recognise more quickly
when Im in a conversation where I can help someone.
Skill use. The only category discussed in this theme included responses reflecting the
participants perception of their ability to incorporate the learned skills and processes into
typical adolescent conversation when helping others. Typical responses included it is easy
to make it sound natural during a helping conversation, and it is easy to actually apply
the skills into a conversation.

179

Role attribution
Role attribution was defined as a function assumed by peer counsellors in a particular
situation and as a feature expected of someone in a particular situation. Themes included
under this heading reflect the peer counsellors experience of their role with regard to their
relationship with others and execution of their role as peer counsellor.
Themes and categories reflecting the participants experiences of role attribution at
T2, T3 and T4 are summarised in Tables 7.5. to 7.7. The themes are arranged in descending
order of frequency of mention and both themes and categories are reported as percentages of
the responses collected.
Time 2 Immediately post-intervention
Themes and categories under this heading include the responses from open-ended
surveys and focus group discussions which described the participants experiences as a peer
counsellor in helping conversations, from their experience of receiving help during training
and assessment conversations and their predictions about how their peers might respond
when receiving help from peer counsellors. The themes and categories identified under the
heading of role attribution at T2 are summarised in Table 7.5. Results are reported under
theme headings.

180

Table 7.5
Role attribution themes, categories and percentage of responses at T2
Responses
for the
theme
%

Themes

Categories

Responses
from the
Peer
Counsellor
Perspective
(% Within
each theme)
31
14
14
11
11
9
9

Predicted
responses
from peers
(% Within
each theme)

20
6
27

1. Enhancers of
the conversation
when in the role
of peer
counsellor

40

Openness to personal disclosure


Natural, free-flowing and non pressuring conversation
Being non-judgemental/not acting superior
Following the process and using skills
Having similar experience
Supportive/reassuring/friendly
Peer counsellor self-disclosure

6
32
15
12
9
17
9

2. Emotional
experience of
the conversation

23

Feeling Okay
Concern
Confident/confidence in the process
Raised self-awareness
Anxiety/Relief

29
21
21
16
13

47

3. Perception of
success

23

Recipient less confused


Positive change in recipients emotions
Collaborative problem solving
Unloading the problem/validation
Normalising

35
30
20
10
5

21
10
16
37
16

4. Constraints of
the conversation
when in the role
of peer
counsellor

14

Unfamiliarity with the conversational partner


Severity/simplicity of the problem
Following the process and using skills
Pauses/silence

33
26
20
20

40
20
10
30

Note. Total number of responses = 172. 40% of responses focused on enhancers in the conversation, 23% of
responses focused on emotional experience of peer counsellors in the role, 23% of responses focused on
perceptions of success, 14% of responses focused on constraints in the conversation.

Enhancers of the conversation when in the role of peer counsellor. Categories listed
in this theme included responses describing those factors that enhanced or supported the peer
counsellor or their peers during the helping conversation. Frequent mention by peer
counsellors (31% of responses) regarding their peers openness to personal disclosure
contributed to their positive experience during the helping conversation but were predicted
as being less important for their peers (6% of responses), examples include my partner was

181
friendly and open, ...she was open and talkative and (my partner was) open and
honest. Researcher reflections of the data concluded that, at this stage, peer counsellors
relied on a cooperative partner to assist them with focusing on skill implementation and to
ensure positive outcomes of the conversation.
The categories of natural and free-flowing /non pressuring conversation as well as
being supportive/reassuring and friendly were frequently mentioned by peer counsellors
(32% and 17% of responses respectively) when expressing their predictions about important
features that might enhance the conversation for their peers, for example letting me
decide, supportive and not pressuring me to do something. Responses in all other
categories were mentioned as being equally important for peer counsellors and also
important for their peers with regard to factors enhancing the conversation.
Emotional experience of the conversation. Transcribed statements and responses that
reflected the emotional experience of the peer counsellor and their predictions of how their
peers might respond emotionally were included in the categories of this theme. The
categories of okay and confident/confidence in the process included positive descriptions
by peer counsellors (29% and 21% of responses respectively) when describing their
emotional experiences of helping conversations. Confident/confidence in the process was
predicted by peer counsellors (27% of responses) to be a reaction that was particularly
important for their peers to experience during the conversation. Researcher reflections of the
transcribed data concluded that the categories of raised self-awareness, feeling okay and
confident/confidence in the process indicated a high level of self-assuredness with regard
to conducting a helping conversation.
Peer helpers frequently mentioned concern for their conversational partner as a
prominent emotion during the helping conversation with regard to the problem being
discussed (21% of responses) examples include ...(I was) worried about her situation and

182
how it was affecting her emotionally, and I felt sorry for her. Additionally, participants
frequently mentioned (16% of responses) a raised awareness of others feelings and
concerns during the conversation. Examples include I could tell by the look on her face
and I used to just let out what came into my head and then I may have hurt them...now I am
more aware of their feelings.
Responses in the category of anxiety/relief were more frequently predicted by peer
counsellors (47% of responses) as reactions likely to be experienced by their peers, for
example ...relief that I was telling someone and ...nervous and worried.
Perception of success. Categories included in this theme reflect either the peer
counsellors emotion, or their prediction of how peers might respond, with regard to positive
outcomes of the helping conversation. Peers appearing less confused (35% of responses),
was considered to be an indicator of success by peer counsellors and predicted as a being
somewhat of an indicator of successes, for their peers (21% of responses), examples include,
(she was) less confused, (she) made good suggestions based on her experience, and (I
felt) no confusion at the end. Experiencing a positive change in emotions was considered
to be an indicator of success by peer counsellors (30% of responses), for example her
spirits brightened but predicted not to be the case for their peers (10% of responses).
The categories of unloading the problem/validation (37% of responses), and
normalising (16% of responses) were predicted by peer counsellors to be indicators of a
successful helping conversation for their peers, examples include checking that she
understood, and ...(I) got things off my chest. Collaborative problem solving was also
seen by peer counsellors as a process which seemed to contribute to the success of the
conversation for both the peer counsellor and the recipient, for example(we) came up with a
solution together.

183
Constraints of the conversation when in the role of peer counsellor. Transcript
statements indicating negative experiences which occurred during the peer counsellors
helping conversations and statements which implied that those experiences constrained or
restricted the conversation were included in this theme.
Responses regarding Unfamiliarity with the conversational partner were frequently
mentioned as a constraint for both the peer counsellor (33%) and in particular predicted as a
constraint for their peers (40%) during the helping conversation. Responses from peer
counsellors such as this person is not my friend, ...chatting with someone I dont know
and not knowing her and feeling responsible, along with responses from peer counsellors
in the position of being helped such as I didnt know them, not knowing the person (was
challenging) and (trust was difficult) not knowing her indicated that familiarity in the
relationship is desirable for a positive experience for both the peer counsellor and their peers.
The severity/simplicity of the problem was a category with frequently mentioned
responses indicating constraints, more for peer counsellors (26%) than for their peers (20%)
as can be seen in the example it was a difficult problem, Depends on whether it is a
serious problem and ...easy if its an everyday problem. Researcher reflections of
transcripts indicate that more serious problems were overwhelming for peer counsellors.
Pauses/silence were predicted to be constraints for peers (30% of responses).
Examples of responses include pauses with nothing to say and pauses in the
conversation. Both pauses/silence and following the process and using skills (20% and
20% of responses, respectively) were considered to be difficulties experienced by the peer
counsellor, for example thinking of things to help, trying to remember the sequence....
the process and I couldnt share from my own experience. Researcher reflections of the
data concluded that focusing on skill implementation issues by peer counsellors rather than
attending to the helping conversation were responsible for these results.

184
Time 3 - three months post-intervention.
Participants had been formally introduced as peer counsellors into the wider school
community at three months post-intervention and had used conversational helping skills in
helping conversations for three months at T3. Researcher reflections of focus group
discussions at T2 noted differences between how early and late adolescent peer counsellors
reported their experiences. As a consequence, the responses from open-ended surveys and
focus group discussions were recorded separately for early adolescent peer counsellors
(grades eight and nine) and for late adolescent peer counsellors (grades 10 and 11) at T3.
Themes included under this heading reflect the peer counsellors experience of their
role with regard to their relationship with others and execution of their role as peer
counsellor. The themes identified under the heading of Role attribution at T3 are summarised
in Table 7.6. Results are reported under theme headings.
Table 7.6
Role attribution themes, categories and percentage of responses at T3

Themes

1. Rewarding
aspects of
helping

2. Unrewarding
aspects of
helping

Percentage
of responses
for the
theme

65

35

Categories

Early
adolescent
responses
(% Within
each theme)

Confidence/competence
Goal oriented conversation
Witnessing positive change in others
Respect from others
Helping people
Increased awareness of others emotions

32
32
23
13

Lack of respect from others


Not being approached for help by others
No opportunities to help others

52
29
19

Late
adolescent
responses
(% Within
each
theme)
29
41
4
13
13
68
32

Note. Total number of responses =84. 65% of responses focused on Rewarding aspects of helping, 35% of
responses focused on Unrewarding aspects of helping.

Rewarding aspects of helping. Transcribed statements reflecting the participants


positive emotional experiences of the peer counsellors role are included in the categories of

185
this theme. Responses from early adolescent peer counsellors (32% for the category of
witnessing positive change in others and 32% for the category of respect from others)
indicate that these categories contributed equally to participants positive experiences of the
helping conversation. Response samples include helping people and satisfaction,
making them feel better and being appreciated and my friends and peers have
responded well to me as a peer counsellor.
Responses contributing to discussions with regards to confidence/competence (29%)
and goal oriented conversation (41%) were found to be the most rewarding aspects for late
adolescent peer counsellors. Their own sense of confidence, competence and goal
accomplishment is reflected in the following responses, More aware of what Im doing
now, Get them to a mindset so they can change and ...more able to change things, get
them to a certain point. Both early and late adolescent peer counsellors discussed their
increased awareness of others emotions with equal interest (13% of responses for early
adolescents and 13% of responses for late adolescents).
Unrewarding aspects of helping. Transcribed statements reflecting the participants
negative emotional experiences of being in the peer counsellor role are included in the
categories of this theme. The results indicate that 52% of responses made up the category of
lack of respect from others and was the main contributor to early adolescent peer
counsellors overall negative experiences of satisfaction when helping others. In comparison
68% of responses from late adolescent participants contributed to this category. Responses
such as not being accepted has been my worst experience as a peer counsellor, people
approach me sarcastically and, from a male peer counsellor, the guys think were gay
were mentioned frequently. Additionally, responses in the category of no opportunities to
help others (19%) contributed negatively to early adolescent peer counsellors experience of
the helping conversation, examples include I need to have people.

186
In contrast, 32% of responses from late adolescent participants were included in the
category of not being approached for help by others and contributed to their negative
experience of helping compared to 29% of responses from early adolescent peer counsellors.
For example, ...(I am) willing to help but no one has approached me.
Researcher reflections concluded that these responses indicated an expectation held
by peer counsellors that, because they were peer counsellors, others would approach them
for help. It appeared that peer counsellors did not regard initiating contact with others with
the intention of helping as part of their role. Additionally, under the heading, Role
attribution, the categories of rewarding and unrewarding aspects of helping at T3 reflect peer
counsellors focus on evaluation of their inter-personal experiences rather than on the intrapersonal experiences (constraints of the conversation, enhancers of the conversation,
emotional experience, and perception of success) evident at T2.
Time 4 - six months post-intervention
Peer counsellors had been formally operating in their role as peer counsellors in the
wider school community for six months at T4 and had used conversational helping skills in
helping conversations for six months.
The responses from open-ended surveys and focus group discussions were recorded
separately for early adolescent peer counsellors (participants from grades eight and nine) and
for late adolescent peer counsellors (participants from grades 10 and 11). Themes included
under this heading reflect the peer counsellors experience of their role with regard to their
relationship with others and execution of their role as peer counsellor.
The themes identified under the heading of Role attribution at T4 are summarised in
Table 7.7. Results are reported under themes headings.

187
Table 7.7
Role attribution themes, categories and percentage of responses at T4
Themes

1. Role
Limitations

Responses
for the
theme
%
46

Categories

Initiating contact/not being


approached
Lack of respect from peers

Early
adolescent
responses
(% Within each
theme)
47

Late adolescent
responses
(% Within each
theme)

53

37

63

2. Role
involvement

29

Support from others


Active involvement

67
33

58
52

3. Adjustment
to role

25

Optimistic adjustment
Pessimistic adjustment

100

70
30

Note. Total number of responses =190. 46% of responses focused on discussion regarding Role
Limitations, 29% of responses focused on Role involvement, 25% of responses focused on Adjustment
to role.

Role limitations. Transcript statements indicating negative occurrences during the


peer counsellors helping experiences and statements, which implied that those occurrences
constrained or restricted the participants from assuming their role, were included in this
theme.
Results indicate from responses that early adolescent peer counsellors (47%) and late
adolescent peer counsellors (63%) experienced initiating contact /not being approached by
others as limiting the opportunity for them to carry out their role as peer counsellors. This
was particularly true for late adolescent peer counsellors. Examples include people arent
talking to us and they wont come up with problems or they wont say can I come to talk
to you.
Lack of respect from peers was also identified as restricting early adolescent peer
counsellors (53% of responses) from assuming their role as peer counsellors and from late
adolescent participants but with fewer responses (37%). For example, people have been
like sarcastic, ...always pays me out cause I have done this peer counselling course and
no one takes us seriously.

188
Role involvement. The categories in this theme include responses that reflect the
participants beliefs about how they proactively execute their role and their perceptions with
regard to endorsement of their role by others.
Early adolescent peer counsellors frequently reported the importance of support
from peers and staff when performing their role (67%) compared with late adolescent
participants reports (58%), reflected in responses such as the school and staff support the
idea of having peer counsellors in the school and because of my peer counsellor training
my peers believe I have a particular role in the school community.
Late adolescent peer counsellors made more frequent responses with regards to
active involvement in their role (42%)for example being a peer helper has provided more
opportunities for me to help others, compared with early adolescent participants (33%).
Adjustment to role. Responses indicating either ways to improve the situation to
enhance their role as peer counsellors or disillusionment about their role as peer counsellors
were included in the categories in this theme.
Twenty- five percent of responses contributed to the theme of adjustment to role.
Responses from early adolescent peer counsellors were few but focused exclusively on
positive views about how participants could improve their role as peer counsellors and
contributed to the category of optimistic adjustments.
Responses from late adolescent peer counsellors were divided and included
statements indicating the importance of overcoming the negative experiences of being a peer
counsellor through optimistic adjustment as well as statements reflecting pessimistic
adjustment. The following statements, illustrate those responses reflecting optimistic
adjustment, we should have the maturity level just to ignore that and get on with it, we
need to advertise a Power Point presentation and ...promote ourselves, we can make them
see we are not strangers we are here to help weve just been through a training course.

189
The following responses contribute to the category of pessimistic adjustment: the name
peer counsellor doesnt really give a positive effect to be honest and they wouldnt turn up
to any activities that we were setting up.
Status
Status was defined as the relative social, professional or other position or standing of
someone (The New Oxford Dictionary of English, 1998). Themes and categories under this
heading include references to the behaviours, relationships and skills of peer counsellors
which were perceived to contribute to similarities with, or differences from, their peers.
Themes and categories reflecting the participants experiences of status at T2, T3 and
T4 are summarised in Tables 8.8. to 8.10. The themes are arranged in descending order of
frequency of mention and both themes and categories are reported as percentages of the
responses collected.
Time 2 Immediately post-intervention
Themes and categories under this heading include the responses from open-ended
surveys and focus group discussions which described the participants experiences as peer
counsellors in helping conversations, from their experience of receiving help during training
and assessment conversations, and their predictions about how their peers might respond
when receiving help from peer counsellors. The themes and categories identified under the
heading of Status at T2 are summarised in Table 7.8. Results are reported under theme
headings.

190

Table 7.8
Status themes, categories and percentage of responses at T2

Themes

Responses
for the
theme
%

Responses
from the
Peer
Counsellor
(% Within
each
theme)

Predicted
responses
from peers
(% Within
each
theme)

Friendly
Trustworthy
Genuinely curious/interested/attentive
Committed to personal growth
Respectful
Aware of others emotions
Encouraging and affirming
Sympathetic/Understanding

23
14
14
11
11
9
9
9

13
5
30
13
2
5
32

Categories

1. Personal
characteristics
contributing to
peer counsellor
status

47

2. Status with
regard to
relationships
with others

36

Not friends/different from friends


Reciprocal relationship
Similar to friends

35
20
45

48
17
35

3. Status with
regard to
training

17

More confident than others when helping


Training in counselling skills
Skill acquisition
Accreditation
Peer counsellor conversations are more
meaningful

33
22
16
16
11

100

Note. Total number of responses =160. 47% of responses focused on the personal characteristics contributing to
the Status of peer counsellor, 36% of responses focused on Status with regard to relationships with others, 17%
of responses focused on Status with regard to training.

Personal Characteristics contributing to peer counsellor status. Transcribed


statements or words describing those behaviours or personal characteristics of peer
counsellors that are valued by participants are included in the categories of this theme.
The

frequency

of

responses

included

in

the

categories

of

curiosity/interest/attentiveness (30%), and sympathy/understanding (32%), indicate that


peer counsellors predicted that these personal characteristics of peer counsellors would be
most valued by their peers. However, they described being friendly (23%), trustworthy
(14%), aware of others emotions (9%), and encouraging and affirming (9%) as being

191
more important personal characteristics for themselves as peer counsellors. Researcher
reflections of transcripts concluded that peer counsellors believed that the characteristics
described by them as valuable in the relationship would emerge in the way described by their
peers during the conversation.
Status with regard to relationships with others.

Peer counsellors identified

differences in the social position of themselves relative to their peers as a consequence of


their peer counsellor training. However, results show that the majority of peer counsellor
responses (45%) indicate that they believe that they are the same as their friends and peers
when helping despite their role as peer counsellors, for example the same but more
structured. Peer counsellors predicted that the majority of their peers would also believe
that they were the same as them following peer counsellor training (35%) for example same
and relaxed... she wasnt acting better than me.
Status with regard to training. Peer counsellors identified differences between
themselves and their peers as a consequence of their peer counsellor training as can be seen
in responses contributing to the categories of more meaningful conversation (11%), skill
acquisition (16%) training in counselling skills (22%) and accreditation (16%) for
example...they would know that... because we are trained, and I have something to offer
my friends because I feel like the conversations are more meaningful now.
Peer counsellors predicted that executing their counselling skills with confidence was
important for their peers as indicated by frequent item responses with regard to the category
of more confident than others when helping (100%), examples include they would prefer
to go to a stranger who has the skills to help them.
Time 3 - three months post-intervention
Participants had been formally introduced as peer counsellors into the wider school
community at three months post-intervention and had used conversational helping skills in

192
helping conversations for three months at T3. The responses from open-ended surveys and
focus group discussions were recorded separately for early adolescent peer counsellors
(grades eight and nine) and for late adolescent peer counsellors (grades 10 and 11).
Themes and categories under this heading include references to the behaviours,
relationships and skills of peer counsellors which were perceived to contribute to similarities
with, or differences from, their peers. The themes identified under the heading of, Status at
T3, are summarised in Table 7.9. Results are reported under theme headings.
Table 7.9
Status themes, categories and percentage of responses at T3

Themes

1. Behaviours
that indicate
Status
difference

Responses
for the
theme
%

48

Peer counsellors approach peers directly


Peer counsellors unconsciously use skills and
process with friends
Peer counsellors are goal oriented when helping
others
Peer counsellors take their role seriously
Peer counsellors are genuinely interested in
helping others/caring
Peer counsellors are committed

13
25

Late
adolescent
responses
(% Within
each
theme)
16
7

17

32

21
14

23
22

10

Categories

Early
adolescent
responses
(% Within
each theme)

2. Status as
perceived by
peer
counsellors

23

Peer counsellors need to be clearly identified


Peer counsellors do not need to be identified
Non peer counsellors help others differently/use
unhelpful skills

57
13
30

41
35
24

3. Status
perceived by
others

21

Peer counsellors have a positive relationship with


their friends
Peer counsellors are negatively received by their
peers
Peer counsellors are positively received, by their
peers

62

50

24

44

14

People/opportunities to help
Promotion of the peer counsellors role

67
33

57
43

4. Status
enhancers

Note. Total number of responses = 173. 48% of responses focused on Behaviours that indicate Status
difference, 23% of responses focused on Status as perceived by peer counsellors, 21% of responses focused on
Status perceived by others, 8% of responses focused on Status enhancers.

193
Behaviours that indicate status difference. Categories in this theme include
transcribed statements and words that indicate the beliefs that peer counsellors have about
the behaviours and characteristics relevant to their role which are likely to make them
different from their peers. Responses in the category, approaching peers directly, (13% for
early adolescent peer counsellors and 16% for late adolescent peer counsellors) indicate that
on the whole peer counsellors believed that this behaviour was consistent with their role as
peer counsellors, as can be seen in the following responses, you have no reason to feel
uncomfortable...just say you can tell me if you want to. However, responses from early
adolescent peer counsellors indicated more uncertainty about whether peer counsellors
should initiate contact with others, for example ...you dont know them, and its not as if
you go up to a stranger and say Ive noticed youve been a bit down lately.
Researcher reflections of data concluded that some peer counsellors believed that
others might feel pressured or intruded upon if approached by them, while others believed
that as peer counsellors it was part of their role to approach others with the intention of
helping them.
Discussion among early adolescent peer counsellors (25% of responses) indicated
uncertainty about whether they used counselling microskills and processes with friends and
included responses such as we dont think about using open questions with a friend and
you dont really notice.... unconsciously maybe. Results from late adolescent peer
counsellors (7% of responses) indicated that using skills with friends was not as important as
being available as a peer counsellor. (A) wanted to talk to me cause I was her friend not just
because I was in the program.
The category of peer counsellors take their role seriously generated slightly more
discussion among late adolescent peer counsellors (23% of responses) compared with early
adolescent peer counsellors (21% of responses) perhaps indicating particular interest in

194
presenting themselves differently when engaging in a helping conversation. Results indicate
that peer counsellors from both groups believe that peer counsellors are goal oriented when
helping others. This was particularly true for late adolescent peer counsellors (32% of
responses) compared with early adolescent peer counsellors (17% of responses). Typical
responses include, I realised that if I didnt sign up for this and I tried to help my friends
Id be just like...mm...Yeah...okay, and (peer counsellors) do things in detail the training
goes into more detail than what youd usually go into.
Responses indicate that late adolescent participants believe that the category of
genuine interest in helping others is a valuable characteristics for a trained peer counsellor
(22%) compared to early adolescent peer counsellors (14%). However, for early adolescent
peer counsellors the category of commitment to helping others was seen to be a valuable
characteristic for peer counsellors (10%) as can be seen by the responses, such as you have
to want to help people and pay attention when youre doing it, (other people) have to be
willing to do it and not drop out and you have to be committed and give up your time.
Researcher reflections of data concluded that some peer counsellors believed that using skills
and processes was an indication that they were functioning in the role of a peer counsellor
and that when talking with friends it was inappropriate to function in the role of peer
counsellor. However, it also emerged that some peer counsellors recognised that they may
unconsciously use the skills and processes with friends. They showed more support for using
skills and processes with friends than with others.
Status as perceived by peer counsellors. Transcribed statements or words were
included in the categories of this theme if they indicated the participants ideas or thoughts
about how they were different from or similar to others with regard to their skill acquisition
and/or role as peer counsellors. Frequent responses for the category of peer counsellors need
to be clearly identified by early adolescent peer counsellors (57%) indicate strong support

195
for clear identification of peer counsellors as being different from their peers with regard to
their position as skilled helpers compared to late adolescent peer counsellors (41%). Typical
examples of responses include its good so people know, it is very valuable (for peer
counsellors to be clearly identified) and it is extremely valuable (for peer counsellors to
be clearly identified).
There was strong support from late adolescent peer counsellors (35% of responses)
indicating their belief that peer counsellors did not need to be identified compared to early
adolescent peer counsellors (13%) as can be seen by the following examples, No! (Peer
counsellors shouldnt be identified) because it means people wont come for help, and I
think it could be a problem because they dont want others to know they have a problem.
Both groups agreed that their peers would provide help to others differently from
themselves and may also use unhelpful skills and processes (30% of responses from early
adolescent peer counsellors and 23.5% of responses from late adolescent peer counsellors).
Status as perceived by others. Categories in this theme include transcribed statements
and words that indicated the beliefs that peer counsellors had about the way others perceive
their role. Results indicate that on the whole the participants believed that their friends would
perceive their relationships as positive, as illustrated by frequent mention of responses in the
category peer counsellors have a positive relationship with their friends (62% for early
adolescent peer counsellors and 50% for late adolescent peer counsellors). This was
particularly true for early adolescent peer counsellors.
The more frequent responses for the category of peer counsellors are negatively
received by their peers (24% for early adolescent peer counsellors and 44% for late
adolescent peer counsellors) compared to peer counsellors are positively received by their
peers (14% for early adolescent peer counsellors and 6% for late adolescent peer
counsellors) indicates that peer counsellors have negative perceptions regarding how they

196
are perceived in their role by others and is illustrated by the following examples people
need to know we are serious, they make up false problems, they say they would never
come to a peer counsellor for help (I have been) told lies, not being accepted and
people have been approaching me sarcastically. This was particularly true for late
adolescent peer counsellors.
Status enhancers. Categories in this theme include those factors that peer counsellors
believe would improve or enable them to fulfil their role emphasising their difference as peer
counsellors. More frequent responses for the category of people/opportunities to help (67%
for early adolescent peer counsellors and 57% for late adolescent peer counsellors) indicate
that peer counsellors from both groups believe that opportunities to help their peers more
frequently would enhance their role and at the same time emphasise the difference from their
peers, for example I need to have people and no one approaches me for help. This was
particularly true for early adolescent peer counsellors.
Responses from late adolescent peer counsellors (43%) indicate that they believe that
promotion of the peer counsellors role would enhance their role and at the same time
emphasise their difference from their peers. Examples include letting people know that peer
counselling isnt a joke, people need to know that we are serious, and people need to
know its beneficial. Fewer responses from early adolescent peer counsellors (33%)
indicate less importance is attributed to this belief.
Time 4 - six months post-intervention
Peer counsellors had been formally operating in their role as peer counsellors in the
wider school community at six months post-intervention and had used conversational
helping skills in helping conversations for six months at T4. The responses from open-ended
surveys and focus group discussions were recorded separately for early adolescent peer
counsellors (participants from grades eight and nine) and for late adolescent peer counsellors

197
(participants from grades 10 and 11). Themes and categories under this heading include
references to the behaviours, relationships and skills of peer counsellors which were
perceived to contribute to similarities with, or differences from, their peers. The themes
identified under the heading of, Status at T4, are summarised in Table 7.10. Results are
reported under theme headings.
Table 7.10
Status themes, categories and percentage of responses at T4
Responses
for the
theme
%

Themes

Categories

Early
adolescent
responses
(% Within
each theme)

Late
adolescent
responses
(% Within
each theme)

1. Overall
relationship with
others

39

Negative relationship with peers


Positive relationship with friends

53
47

54
46

2. Relationships
with others with
regard to skill
acquisition

33

Changed relationships

100

100

3. Status with
regard to role

28

Identified as a peer counsellor


Not identified as a peer counsellor

74
26

38
62

Note. Total number of responses =197. 39% of responses focused on Overall relationship with others, 33% of
responses focused on Relationships with others with regard to skill acquisition, 28% of responses focused on
Status with regard to role.

Overall relationship with others. Transcribed responses indicated that both groups
(53% for early adolescent peer counsellors and 54% for late adolescent peer counsellors)
experienced negative relationships with peers, for example my peers believe that I am
different in a negative way because of my peer counsellor training. However, both groups
experienced positive relationships with friends (47% for early adolescent peer counsellors
and 46% for late adolescent peer counsellors), for example a positive aspect of being a peer
counsellor is helping my friends now that they know I have additional skills.
Relationship with others with regards to skill acquisition. The category in this theme
included comments reflecting participants perceptions regarding similarities and/or

198
differences with others as a result of their training as a peer counsellor. Thirty three percent
(33%) of responses focused on participants beliefs that their relationships had changed as a
result of learning specific counselling skills. Responses from both early and late adolescent
peer counsellors indicated that acquiring counselling skills had contributed most to changes
in their status with others and is reflected in statements such as when I listen to my friends
helping others I believe that if I was the one helping the conversation would be more
effective because of the skills I have learned and if my peers did the peer counsellor
training their helping behaviours would be more effective and useful. Researcher
reflections of the data noted that these changes were experienced more by early adolescent
peer counsellors than for late adolescent peer counsellors.
Status with regard to role. Early adolescent peer counsellors and late adolescent peer
counsellors were divided with regard to whether they should be clearly identified in their
community as peer counsellors. The majority of responses from early adolescent peer
counsellors (74%) focused on the importance of being identified in the wider school
community, for example, It is important for trained peer counsellors to be identified in the
school community so that students can seek them out when they need help. The majority of
responses from late adolescent peer counsellors (62%) indicated that it would be more
helpful not to be clearly identified as peer counsellors in the wider school community. This
view is reflected in responses such as It is better for trained peer counsellors not to be
identified but for them to simply exist and to help others when the opportunity arises.
Summary of qualitative results
Overall summary of qualitative results
Percentages of responses from participants were calculated by examining the
transcripts and recording the number of responses under each heading over all times and then
determining the most frequently mentioned issues for peer counsellors. Table 7.11 illustrates

199
the percentage of responses made by peer counsellors with regard to skill implementation,
role attribution and status issues.
Table 7.11
Peer counsellor responses
Total number of responses

Peer Counsellor response


percentages

Skill implementation issues

232

19

Role attribution issues

446

37

Status issues

530

44

Results indicate that overall, peer counsellors spent the most time discussing and
commenting on issues related to status with regard to the social and skilled position of
themselves relative to peers and friends (44% of all responses) and that issues with regard to
skill implementation were commented on the least (19% of all responses).
Summary of qualitative results over time
Percentages of responses from participants were examined to compare differences
over time for the most frequently mentioned issues for all peer counsellors. Table 7.12
illustrates the percentage of responses made by peer counsellors with regard to skill
implementation, role attribution and status issues over time.
Table 7.12
Peer counsellor responses over time
Peer Counsellor responses
Number
of
responses

Skill
implementation

83

T2
Peer
Counsellor
response
Percentages
20

Number
of
responses

93

T3
Peer
Counsellor
response
Percentages
27

Number
of
responses

56

T4
Peer
Counsellor
response
Percentages
13

Role attribution

172

41

84

24

190

43

Status difference

160

39

173

49

197

44

200

The findings show that issues with regard to skill implementation, role attribution
and status influenced peer counsellors responses at different times. The findings show that
skill implementation issues did not influence peer counsellors comments as much as role
attribution or status issues over time, However, skill implementation issues were more
influential at T3 (27% three months after the intervention) compared to T2 (20%
immediately following the intervention) and T4 (13% six months after the intervention). At
T2 and T4, peer counsellors spent the most time commenting on issues related to role
attribution and status, with role attribution issues dominating responses at T2 (41%) and
status issues dominating responses at T4 (44%). At T4, role attribution issues were
commented on more than at T2 and T3. At T3, status issues were commented on more than
at T2 and T4.
Summary of qualitative results for early and late adolescent peer counsellors
Percentages of responses were examined to compare differences between early
adolescent peer counsellors and late adolescent peer counsellors with regard to the most
frequently mentioned issues. Table 7.13 illustrates the percentage of responses made by early
adolescent peer counsellors and late adolescent peer counsellors with regard to skill
implementation, role attribution and status issues.
Table 7.13
Early and late adolescent peer counsellors responses
Total
number of
responses

Early adolescent peer


counsellor response
percentages

Total
number of
responses

Late adolescent peer


counsellor response
percentages

Skill implementation
issues

70

17

79

21

Role attribution
issues

148

35

126

34

Status issues

205

48

165

45

201
Results indicate that overall early adolescent peer counsellors and late adolescent
peer counsellors responses portray a similar pattern to responses reflecting the overall trend.
Issues with regard to skill implementation dominated late adolescent peer counsellors
discussions more than early adolescent peer counsellors discussions. Results indicate that
role attribution issues influenced comments made equally by both early adolescent and late
adolescent peer counsellors. Results indicate that responses with regard to status issues from
early adolescent peer counsellors are slightly more frequent than those for late adolescent
peer counsellors.
Summary for early and late adolescent peer counsellors over time
Percentages of responses from early adolescent peer counsellors and late adolescent
peer counsellors were examined to compare differences over time with regard to the most
frequently mentioned issues for peer counsellors. Because peer counsellors as a group were
not divided at T2 into their stage related groups, data for T3 and T4 are included only. Table
7.14 illustrates the percentage of responses made by early and late adolescent peer
counsellors over time with regard to skill implementation, role attribution and status issues.
Table 7.14
Early and late adolescent peer counsellor responses over time
T3
Early
adolescent

Late adolescent

T4
Early
adolescent

Late adolescent

21

33.5

12.7

13

Role attribution

26.6

20.5

42

43.5

Status difference

52.4

46

45.3

43.5

Skill implementation

Results indicate differences in the emphasis of comments between early adolescent


peer counsellors and late adolescent peer counsellors at different times.
For both groups issues regarding skill implementation were raised more frequently at
T3 than T4. Late adolescent peer counsellors commented more frequently on skill

202
implementation issues than early adolescent peer counsellors at T3. Early adolescent peer
counsellors comments were more strongly influenced by issues regarding role attribution
than late adolescent peer counsellors comments at T3. Issues regarding role attribution
increased over time for both groups. At T3 both early and late adolescent peer counsellor
comments were influenced mostly by issues regarding status, with early adolescent peer
counsellors comments more strongly influenced than late adolescent peer counsellors. On
the whole at T4 both early and late adolescent peer counsellor comments were spread
equally across all issues, with issues regarding status dominating comments followed by
issues regarding role attribution.
Discussion
The findings will be discussed under the research question headings.
Research question three
This question asked how a new adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program
affects the participants experiences as peer counsellors with regard to skill implementation,
role attribution, and status. The participants experience will be discussed under the headings
of skill implementation, role attribution and status.
Skill implementation. Examination of qualitative results indicated that skill
implementation issues did not concern adolescent peer counsellors as much as role
attribution or status issues as indicated by the percentage of responses presented in Table
7.11. This is consistent with the suggestion that the model of training enabled participants to
use skills with a reasonable level of comfort. The results lend support to the researchers
suggestion that the new adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program developed in
this study helped to eliminate the difficulties of skill implementation, identified by de
Rosenroll (1988).

203
While the results show that skill implementation issues didnt take prominence with
regard to their importance for peer counsellors, they revealed important understandings
relating to young peoples experience of acquiring and using counselling skills. At no time
during the data collection process was there mention of feeling deskilled as a result of
focusing on unfamiliar conversational skills and communication processes. On the contrary,
some peer counsellors expressed dissatisfaction with the training with regard to the skills
they learned, as they perceived them to be helping behaviours that they had already acquired
and typically used. These findings indicate that some trainees may be disappointed after
training using the model developed in the current study as they may believe that they were
not taught anything new or different. This finding highlights a limitation of using the
alternative training model developed in the current project. However, the reports of
dissatisfaction can partly be explained by the concept of individual differences with regard to
prosocial behaviour (see chapter 2). Eisenberg et al. (1999) proposed the notion of individual
differences in prosocial dispositions. In their review of the literature they suggest that
prosocial behaviour and empathy-related responding have a genetic basis, and that prosocial
behaviour and empathy are linked to temperamental predispositions. The authors proposed
that these differences are consistent over time and, in adolescence, those young people who
have temperamental dispositions favouring prosocial and empathy-related responses, display
behaviours which reflect an understanding of higher-level moral principles and sophisticated
perspective-taking abilities. Their findings suggest that some young people are potentially
more able to provide social support to their peers than others. It may be, that for those
adolescents with prosocial dispositions, training to use skills which are already part of their
helping repertoire may be viewed as unnecessary. It may also explain why they experienced
more dissatisfaction than others with the training model used in this study compared with

204
those who were not initially as competent at providing social support and who believed they
had gained in learning to use their natural conversational skills in helping others.
In the present study, researcher reflections on the data, which focused on
dissatisfaction with regard to skill implementation, concluded that the responses suggesting
dissatisfaction related primarily to descriptions of some peer counsellors unsuccessful
experiences. These unsuccessful experiences occurred when the helper was attempting to
integrate typical adolescent conversational skills with the process of a helping conversation
immediately following training. It is believed that unsuccessful experiences led to selfconscious behaviour which contributed to a sense of dissatisfaction. This is understandable.
In a study by Blum and Rosenberg (1968) investigating the training of counsellors
and the problems they experience in regard to professionalising social interaction, the
authors describe the skills of the counselling relationship and the capacity to elicit, manage,
codify and respond to information from the client in an orderly and systematic fashion as
being difficult to master. The training program developed in this study required participants
to learn how to respond to their peers in an orderly and systematic fashion by following a
particular process. The findings of Blum and Rosenberg (1968) resonate with the results in
the current study with regard to the concept of professionalising social interaction, because
in this study participants had to make the shift from the role of friend to the role of peer
counsellor.
Other factors which impact on participants experiences of implementing counselling
skills include stage of training, age, self actualisation and cognitive flexibility. Findings of
Abney (2003), Blum and Rosenberg (1968), Larsson et al. (1992), Leach and Stoltenberg
(1997), Sipps, Sugden and Favier (1988), Smith (2003), and Stoltenberg and Delworth
(1987) parallel the findings from the qualitative results in the current study with regard to
these factors when exploring research question three and are discussed below.

205
Immediately following training, the majority of comments by participants in the
current study focused on the specific skills and processes learned during training (Table 7.2).
Individual and specific skills were frequently mentioned in terms of their usefulness.
Additionally, comments which focused on using the skills and process of a helping
conversation were frequent. However, in the current study, skill implementation issues were
more influential in discussions at three months post-training than immediately following
training or at six months post-training. Examination of responses at this time showed
individual differences with an emphasis on the skills, process, or combining skills with
process and with regard to the flexibility, freedom and confidence when using any of the
components. Researcher reflections of the data three months following training concluded
that the relatively even distribution of responses attributed to the categories of skills, the
process of a conversation, and combining skills with process indicated the participants
awareness of the differences between skills and process. After three months of using
counselling skills and performing in the role of peer counsellor in the wider school
community, the majority of comments with regard to skill implementation shifted from
exploring the merits of using either individual skills or processes to integrating skills and
processes into a helping conversation. The participants perceptions of success of the helping
conversation was measured by the ease and value of using their preferred component, either
skills, process or a combination of both. This was particularly relevant for late adolescent
peer counsellors. Early adolescent peer counsellors continued to focus on selecting a
preference for using either the skills or process during a helping conversation whereas late
adolescent peer counsellors focused more on integrating the skills and processes.
One possible reason for this change from Time 2 to Time 3 in the current study is the
relationship between the stage of the peer counsellor training experience and participants
perceived self-efficacy in using the skills at each stage. As previously mentioned, some

206
participants in the current study reported dissatisfaction with the training. Additionally,
researcher reflections noted that participants described unsuccessful experiences which led to
self-conscious behaviour immediately following the training. Sipps, et al. (1988) examined
the relationship between the year of graduate training and the self-efficacy reports of trainee
counsellors in using counselling skills in their study. They found that trainee counsellors
initially self-reported low levels of confidence and competence followed by reports of high
levels of confidence and competence with subsequent reports of even higher levels of
confidence and competence following training and during their experiences as counsellors.
The authors suggest that self-reported low levels of confidence and competence are likely
due to the initial perceived failure of relational methods of a commonsense approach in
students early attempts at counselling and their underestimates of the difficulty of
therapeutic interaction. These findings support the conclusions of Blum and Rosenberg
(1968) with regard to their suggestion of counsellor difficulty in initially mastering the
professional socialisation of their role. In view of these findings it can be concluded that
positive self-efficacy reports regarding skill implementation are unlikely immediately
following training. The suggestion fits well with the low percentage of responses with regard
to skill implementation issues identified in the current study at Time 2.
Sipps, et al. (1988) explain reports of increased levels of confidence at later stages as
being due to performance accomplishments provided by more opportunities for experience
followed by further reports of increased levels of confidence because of trainees greater
opportunity to gain mastery experiences.
Findings in the current study at three months post-intervention also parallel the
findings of Sipps, et al. (1988) The elevated percentage of skill implementation responses,
particularly from late adolescent peer counsellors at three months post-training, focused on

207
the flexibility and freedom that peer counsellors experienced when using skills and processes
in conversational helping.
Blum and Rosenberg (1968) report that skill implementation does not occur evenly
and in one piece. Additionally, Stoltenberg and Delworth (1987) and Leach and Stoltenberg
(1997) provide information with regard to explaining differences in performance at different
stages in counsellor development, which have relevance for the current study. The authors
introduce another dimension to that of mastery suggested by Sipps et al. (1988) namely
raised awareness of the helping process. According to Stoltenberg and Delworth (1987) and
Leach and Stoltenberg (1997), a developmental process occurs in counsellor development
with regard to skill implementation. These authors discovered that level one trainees focus
primarily on specific microskills in counselling whereas level two trainees begin to consider
the interaction between the client and the counsellor. Their results have relevance for the
current study in that the overall findings in the present study also indicate that skill
implementation followed a developmental process with a progression from focusing on
individual skills and processes immediately following training to integrating skills and
processes into a helping conversation and then to incorporating skills and processes into
helping situations at three and six months after training with late adolescent peer counsellors
(grade 10/11) moving through this process more quickly than early adolescent peer
counsellors (grade 8/9).
The results raise the question as to why older adolescents in the current study
progressed faster along the developmental continuum than their younger cohorts with regard
to skill implementation despite the fact that training of both groups occurred simultaneously.
Cognitive flexibility, age, and self-actualisation may account for these differences (Table
7.14).

208
Cognitive flexibility has been shown to be related to counsellor competence and
effectiveness (Smith, 2003). During adolescence, the ability of young people to perceive,
comprehend and retain information seems to improve with age (Knight et al., 1985).
Additionally, they progressively develop the ability to make better use of memory strategies
and are more able to detect contradictions (Kiel, 1984). Thus older adolescents tend to have
a great ability than younger adolescents for dealing with complex social and ethical issues as
they have a more complex level of information processing. This suggests that because of this
advanced cognitive ability, older adolescents are more likely to move quickly along the
developmental continuum than younger adolescents.
Results from a study in trainee counsellor effectiveness by Abney (2003) also parallel
the findings in the present study although in the study by Abney the subjects were adults. In
his study investigating counselling effectiveness among trainee student counsellors, the
relationship between age and counsellor effectiveness was found to be statistically
significant. Abney discovered that there was a statistically significant main effect between
trainee students and their counsellor effectiveness, with older age groups rated as more
effective counsellors than younger age groups. Although the study by Abney does not relate
to adolescents, it is interesting to note data from that the present study also suggests that age
is a related factor with regard to skill implementation.
Self-actualisation has been found to predict effectiveness among counsellor trainees
(Smith, 2003). Perhaps the most important psychological task for the adolescent is that of
self-actualisation. As personal identity develops over time, maturation occurs, moving the
adolescent towards adulthood. Adams and Marshall (1996) believe that the search for
identity and self-actualisation is not just restricted to adolescents, however, observations of
young people indicate that self-actualisation is pronounced in adolescents and is a central
characteristic of adolescence. Longitudinal studies have shown that individuals show

209
increased differentiation of self-actualisation throughout adolescence (Elbogen, Carlo, &
Spaulding, 2001; Harter, 1983) with late adolescents achieving more definition with regard
to their identity. It can be concluded that older adolescents are more advanced with regard to
self-actualisation than younger adolescents. The notion of self-actualisation impacting on the
developmental process of skill implementation might explain why older adolescent peer
counsellors in this study progressed more quickly along the continuum of skill acquisition
than younger adolescent peer counsellors.
Role attribution. It is not surprising that the issue of role attribution figures
prominently in participants responses in the present study. Adolescence is known to be a
period of exploratory self-analysis and self-evaluation ideally culminating in the
establishment of a cohesive and integrative sense of self or identity (Erickson, 1968).
Personal identity cannot be separated from the individuals experience of their roles or states
of being (Markus & Nurius, 1986). This connection is illustrated in the present study where
the personal identity of the participant is related to their experience of being an adolescent
peer counsellor.
Markus and Nurius (1986) introduced the concept of possible selves to complement
current conceptions of self-identity. They described possible selves as representing an
individuals ideas of what they might become or would like to become. The authors believe
that possible selves are important because they function as incentives for future behaviour.
This concept is useful when exploring the issues of role attribution in the present study as the
participants in the project were adolescents who self-selected for the peer counsellor
training. Because of this self selection process, it can be assumed that participants had
chosen to commit themselves to the training because the role of peer counsellor was in
accord with their own self-identity, social role-perception and their views about who they
would like to become in the future.

210
Studies examining role transitions (Kelly & Matthews, 2001), role change (Kehas &
Morse, 1971; Van Maanen & Schein, 1979), and how people adapt to new roles (Ibarra,
1999) suggest that, when assuming new roles, people must not only acquire new skills but
also adopt the social norms and rules that govern how they should conduct themselves.
Understanding the social and psychological processes by which adolescent peer counsellors
construct and modify their image and identity as peer counsellors is important when
discussing issues of role attribution. Markus and Nurius (1986) suggest that the creation of a
possible self involves a cognitive self-construction process which eventually matches with a
pre-determined view of the role that will be enacted.
The high percentage of responses recorded in the qualitative data pertaining to role
attribution (Table 7.11) include many responses that reflect participants exploration of the
relationship between a peer counsellor role and their developing sense of self or identity,
some examples include, Im more confident now, I know what Im doing now instead of
just saying words and you have to want to help people (to be a peer counsellor). Initially
after training, results from qualitative data (Table 7.5) suggested that responses regarding
participants experiences were positive with regard to their role as a peer counsellor. The
high percentage of responses contributing to the themes and categories focus predominantly
on factors that enhanced the conversation, the participants positive emotional experience of
the conversation, and their perception of success in the conversation. Researcher reflections
of the data concluded that role attribution issues reflected a focus on the peer counsellors
intrapersonal experiences and a stable sense of self in the role of peer counsellor as defined
by the participants. That is, participants goals, aspirations and behaviours matched with
their beliefs about how a peer counsellor should appear.
Further examination of results identified that participants responses with regard to
their role as a peer counsellor changed at different times following the intervention (Table

211
7.12). Data indicate that issues pertaining to role were considered to be less important at
three months following the training than immediately following the training whereas, as
discussed earlier, issues with regard to skill implementation were more central to peer
counsellors responses at Time 3 than at Time 2. Results from qualitative data (Table 7.12) in
the current study indicate that participants were fully occupied with acquiring and
implementing skills in their role as peer counsellors at three months after the training and
that issues with regard to role were less prominent. Participants responses with regard to
role attribution specifically focus on the theme of rewarding aspects of being a peer
counsellor at this time (Table 7.6) with 65% of response categories describing the peer
counsellors experience of goal achievements and confidence/competence in the helping
conversation. The categories of witnessing positive change in others, respect from others
and helping people indicate a strong sense of fulfilment as a result of using their skills.
As previously mentioned, earlier studies examining role transitions (Kelly &
Matthews, 2001), role change (Kehas & Morse, 1971; Van Maanen & Schein, 1979), and
how people adapt to new roles (Ibarra, 1999) suggest that when assuming new roles, people
must not only acquire new skills but also adopt the social norms and rules that govern how
they should conduct themselves. Other authors (Becker & Carper, 1956; Hall, 1976; Schein,
1978; Hill, 1992) suggest that new roles require new behaviours, attitudes and actions of
interaction as well as new skills. However, in the current study it appears that the
participants focus on acquiring and implementing skills, immediately following training and
three months following training, may have occurred at the expense of the need to assume
different behaviours, attitudes and actions of interaction. The categories of not being
approached for help by others, no opportunities to help others and lack of respect from
others at Time 3 indicated emerging issues with regard to behaviours, attitudes and actions
of interaction that had been overlooked by the participants when in their role as peer

212
counsellors. Participants clearly held the expectation that because of their training in
counselling skills, that others would respect their counselling abilities and approach them for
help. They did not have the expectation that they would need to be proactive with regard to
helping others, rather waited for others to approach them for help. These findings may
highlight a limitation of the training model used in the current study. While training sessions
were allocated to learning skills and behaviours to initiate a helping conversation, the link
between this initial stage in the process of a helping conversation and the role of the peer
counsellor need to be discussed with regard to trainees expectations. Another possibility for
the absence of this initiating behaviour may be that it contributes to status differences among
adolescents. Researcher reflections of data concluded that some peer counsellors believed
that others might feel pressured or intruded upon if approached by them as indicated by
categories depicted in Table 7.9.
In the earlier discussion regarding skill implementation, participants reports of
efficacy with regard to skill implementation were positive three months following the
training. Researcher reflections of the data concluded that because participants self-reports
of efficacy were high that their expectations with regard to performing their role as a peer
counsellor had been accomplished. Participants held a simplistic belief that because they had
the necessary skills to be a peer counsellor that skill acquisition and successful
implementation was all that was needed to successfully assume their anticipated role as a
peer counsellor. The categories of not being approached for help by others and no
opportunities to help others (Table 7.6) included responses which indicated that their
expectations about their role as a peer counsellor did not fit with those expectations held by
their peers. Additionally, they did not view the behaviour of intentionally approaching others
to provide help as belonging to the role of peer counsellor. These identified categories

213
continued to influence peer counsellors responses six months after training and appeared to
threaten participants roles and their views of themselves in their role as peer counsellors.
The issue of expectations pertaining to participants roles as peer counsellors reflects
their ideas and beliefs about how they should appear or would like to appear as peer
counsellors and includes the participants beliefs about their efficacy. An efficacy
expectation is the individuals belief that they are competent to perform a required behaviour
(Bandura, 1982). Beliefs about efficacy can be particularly influential to the extent they are
linked to specific, clearly envisioned possible selves (Markus & Nurius, 1986). Another
limitation of the training program in the current study may have been the absence of
opportunities for participants to observe successful role models. The participants in the
project were the first group of students in the school to be trained as peer counsellors.
Findings from a study by Ibarra (1999) revealed that transition in roles involves three basic
tasks: (1) observing role models to identify potential identities, (2) experimenting with
provisional selves that serve as trials for possible but not yet fully elaborated identities, and
(3) evaluating the role using internal standards and external feedback. The absence of role
prototypes may have disadvantaged participants in the current study with regard to
successful role acquisition as a peer counsellor.
Ibarras (1999) suggestion that people adapt to their new role by experimenting with
provisional selves is illustrated in the responses from peer counsellors with regard to role
adjustment six months following the training (Table 7.7). Ibarra explains that provisional
selves are temporary solutions used to bridge the gaps between the current role and the
representations they hold about what attitudes and behaviours are expected in the new role.
Her suggestions provide some explanation for the changes over time for participants in the
current study. The role assumed by peer counsellors three months after training clearly
reflected a provisional self that changed and contributed to the development of a full

214
identity over time. The themes of adjustment to role and role involvement six months
following training illustrate the beginning of this change process in the current study,
through responses suggesting promotional and personal adaptation strategies.
Yost, Stube and Bailey (1992) concluded that identity construction does not occur
simply by producing random possible selves but is a process where the individual selects
and discards the possibilities they have considered using internal and external feedback
mechanisms. Engaging in a process of adaptation to their role as peer counsellors six months
after training illustrates how participants responded to the situational demands in the current
study which prompted them to create new aspects of their role identity. Their experiences
with regard to lack of opportunities to help and not being approached by others for help
provided feedback for the participants about their role which may have contributed to their
considerable escalation of interest in role attribution issues six months after training. This
increased interest in role attribution issues reflects a transition period from Time 3 where
participants fulfilled the role of peer counsellor according to their current self-definition to a
situation of adapting to improve the fit between themselves and their role in the community
at Time 4. Results indicate that there were a substantially higher percentage of responses six
months after training focusing on issues with regard to role involvement and adjustment to
role when compared with Time 3. It may have been that this focus on issues of adjustment
was part of a process of protecting their self-concept and identity. This is consistent with the
idea that, when faced with a potential threat to identity, highly identified individuals are
motivated to protect that identity because it makes an important contribution to their selfconcept (Branscombe & Wann, 1994; Mummendey et al., 1992).
As previously mentioned, the increased opportunity for counselling experience
between Time 3 and Time 4 provided participants in the current study with an opportunity to
improve their understanding of their role and refine their emerging notions of their role over

215
time using internal and external feedback mechanisms. Over time, peer counsellors adapted
aspects of their identity to accommodate role demands and modified role definitions to
preserve and enact valued aspects of their identity. This behaviour fits with findings from
research by Ashforth and Saks (1995) examining work role transitions. The authors
identified that identity and role changes evolve interactively so that a new role is achieved
that is more than simply a compromise of role demands and self-demands.
Participants were highly cognizant of the need to appear to have credibility with their
peers before feeling competent in their new roles. By examining the qualitative results six
months after training, the researcher identified categories which reflected participants
understanding of a need to adjust their role in the wider community. Adjustments in role
included the categories of how participants proactively executed their role, their perceptions
with regard to the importance of endorsement of the role by others, factors that contributed
to enhancing or constraining them from assuming their role and personal adjustments to their
role. Researcher reflections of the data concluded that participants responses suggest that
adaptation involved evaluating their success as peer counsellors against internal and external
standards.
The qualitative data also indicate that role attribution issues overall were of equal
importance to early and late adolescent peer counsellors (Table 7.13). Although role
attribution issues were more important for late adolescent peer counsellors than for early
adolescent peer counsellors over time (Table 7.14), with role attribution issues doubling in
their importance for late adolescent peer counsellors between Time 3 and Time 4. This is an
interesting finding and suggests that issues regarding role may not be as important for young
adolescents as they are for older adolescents. A substantial body of knowledge has been
generated from Ericksons (1968) work on identity formation, however, this knowledge has
focused primarily on research with older adolescents. Little is known about identity

216
development in early adolescence, with a lack of attention to identity development in early
adolescents stemming from the belief that identity assessment is not feasible due to the
cognitive and emotional immaturities of this age group (Adams & Montmeyer, 1983; Paikoff
& Brooks-Gunn, 1991). However, in a study exploring interpersonal identity formation
during early adolescence, Allison and Schultz (2001) found that for early adolescents the
exploration and commitment to processes associated with identity formation was just
emerging, reflecting a state of transition in interpersonal identity formation. It was found that
early adolescents had yet to experience a crisis in their search for an identity and may not
have given much serious thought to identity issues. From their findings it appears that
younger adolescents respond less to the internal drive of establishing an identity than older
adolescents. The possibility that early adolescent peer counsellors in the current study had
not yet confronted experiences challenging their search for identity is likely and could
explain the increased importance of role attribution issues for late adolescent peer
counsellors between Time 3 and Time 4 when compared with early adolescent peer
counsellors.
The responses from early adolescent peer counsellors six months after training
suggest that they may respond more to feedback from external sources than by reflecting on
their own internal experiences. This may be because adolescent peer counsellors respond to
external feedback rather than internal feedback to facilitate the adjustment process in their
role as peer counsellors. Researcher reflections of the data concluded that younger
adolescent peer counsellors responded to role adjustments (particularly with regard to
opportunities to help and not being approached for help) with only a few positively framed
suggestions to enable them to adapt to their role as a peer counsellor, for example we should
have an office with our names on the door and we should have special times when people
can come to talk to us. Older adolescent peer counsellor responses were less positive and

217
included pessimistic responses when discussing adjustment and adaptation strategies, for
example they (peers) wouldnt turn up to any activities that we were setting up and the
name peer counsellor doesnt really (have) a positive effect (on others). Additionally, older
adolescent peer counsellors believed that it would be more helpful not to be clearly identified
as peer counsellors in the wider school community, it is better for trained peer counsellors
not to be identified but for them to simply exist and to help others when the opportunity
arises. The latter comment reflects a focus on internal feedback mechanisms evident
through a degree of congruence between what older adolescent peer counsellors felt and
communicated about their competence in the peer counsellor role.
Ibarra (1999) describes participants in his study as displaying a dominant concern
with authenticity when experimenting with provisional selves and adaptation to role.
Participants using true-to-self strategies avoided pretensions or exaggerated displays of
confidence. Younger adolescent peer counsellors in the current study seemed less concerned
with true-to-self strategies when making adjustments to their role as a peer counsellor. The
difference between younger and older adolescent peer counsellors with regard to true-to-self
strategies may account for the increased importance of role attribution issues for late
adolescent peer counsellors between Time 3 and Time 4.
Status. Just as personal identity is related to the participants experiences of their role
as peer counsellors in the current study so adolescent social identity is pivotal to the
participants experiences of their status among their peers. The issues with regard to status in
the current study revolved around the participants attempts to strengthen their personal
identity through becoming a peer counsellor while continuing to belong to their peer group
in the wider school environment. A wide-ranging literature review by Baumeister and Leary
(1995) suggests that people have a fundamental need to belong. A sense of belonging and
identity are closely related as people define themselves in terms of the groups of which they

218
are members (Hogg & Abrams, 1988). It is no surprise that adolescents in particular are
concerned with group membership as emerging issues with regard to identity and peer group
membership are central to this stage of development (Erickson, 1968). Consequently, it was
also not surprising that, in the current study some members of the school population wanted
to train as peer counsellors as they saw this is an opportunity to strengthen their personal
identity through group membership as a peer counsellor. Participants self-selected to be
trained as peer counsellors and had chosen to commit themselves to the training because the
role of peer counsellor agreed with their own self-identity, social role-perception and their
views about who they would like to become in the future. Because not all students in the
school participated in the training, the participants in the study became members of a group
that was different from their peers. Status issues were by far the most important issues
discussed by peer counsellors in the current study (Table 7.12).
It is known that group membership is psychologically beneficial (Wright & Forsyth,
1997). According to social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979), group memberships
contribute to both self-definition and self-esteem. However, in the current study, participants
attempted to fulfil the goal of self-identity by seeking membership from one group while
belonging to another group or by attempting to maintain membership of both groups which
raised issues with regard to status differences. Group membership as a peer counsellor raised
issues of difference for the participants because acquiring counselling skills created a status
difference based on their relative social and skilled standing in comparison to their peers.
Becoming a peer counsellor involved a process of transition from their peer group to
membership of a peer counsellor group. The experience of this transition from one status to
another resulted in the themes and categories identified in the qualitative data under the
heading of Status. Results from the qualitative data also reveal the impact of the social

219
environment on the participants and their subsequent responses during this status passage as
they initiated a role that was new in the wider school community.
Bradby (1990) suggests that a status passage includes the anticipations and anxieties
experienced prior to the event. Participant responses from the qualitative data immediately
following training indicated that while status issues were more important than skill
implementation issues, none of the participants anticipated group membership as a peer
counsellor in the wider school community as being difficult. Responses suggested that
participants believed they were the same as their peers and that their peers would also
believe that peer counsellors were the same as them (Table 7.8). Immediately following
training, participants responses indicated that they perceived themselves as possessing
specific characteristics plus skills that contributed to their role as peer counsellors (Table
7.8). Researcher reflections of the data suggest that while the peer counsellors recognised
differences between themselves and their peers with regard to helping others as a
consequence of their training, believing that they were more skilled than their peers, they
also wanted to believe that they were the same as their friends and peers who were not peer
counsellors. They believed that despite their role as peer counsellors, their peers would share
this view.
Researcher reflections concluded that, immediately following training peer
counsellors felt strongly affiliated to their peer groups and frequently talked about the
importance of their friends rather than referring to their membership of the peer counsellor
group (Table 7.8). They indicated little anticipation with regard to a process of transition
from peer group to peer counsellor group and exhibited limited insight into the future
possibility of belonging to an emerging group of peer counsellors and the impact of the
social environment on this process. The ability to anticipate membership of a new group may
reflect a limitation of the training model used in the current study. Three training sessions

220
were devoted to ethical considerations when using counselling skills, and to peer counsellor
expectations and limitations. However, this training did not include reference to the reality
that training as a peer counsellor would mean that they would in the future belong to a new
group which would be different from their current peer groups. It might be useful in future
programs to include information highlighting the fact that after training as a peer counsellor,
individuals would belong to a peer counsellor group which would have its own distinctive
identity. The importance of understanding the role that trainees will occupy in the wider
community is essential to maximise smooth status passage (McIntosh, 2003). The transition
from one group to another in the current study can be described by identifying the process
that participants used to manage their status passage and can help understanding with regard
to status differences when becoming a member of the peer counsellor group.
The results from the qualitative data in the current study suggest that peer counsellors
used a similar process to one described by McIntosh (2003) to address the difficulties
encountered with regard to status differences. McIntosh explored the professional
socialisation of nurses, and described how nurses addressed the problematic issues of
difference as they became and sustained being professional. A three-stage process which
emerged involved (1) assuming adequacy, (2) realising practice, and (3) developing a
reputation. This process is similar to one previously identified by Stonequist (1966) in his
study of ethnic groups and marginal populations.
Assuming adequacy is characterised by a diminished awareness of others opinions
and is brought about through concentrating on technical tasks to the relative exclusion of
interpersonal tasks (McIntosh, 2003). In assuming adequacy, peer counsellors in the current
study indicated this stage in the process by concentrating on successfully implementing
counselling skills with a diminished awareness of whether others respected them. As
discussed earlier, this was the case for participants in their role as peer counsellors

221
immediately following training. However, three months after training it became clear that
participants were conscious of differences between themselves and their peers with regard to
the way they behaved as peer counsellors (Table 7.9). Rather than gain support for their
emerging role through the peer counsellor group, it appeared from the theme in Table 7.9
(Status with regard to relationships with others), that peer counsellors personal identity was
retained individually, mainly through links outside the group. A group of people who start a
course together can be called a collectivity and are likely to gain support from each other
through the process of collective passage (Bradby, 1990). However, in the current study at
three months following the training there was a surprising lack of group affinity among peer
counsellors. Responses indicated that there continued to be strong support for the fact that as
a peer counsellor they were still closely affiliated with their friends. Understanding
adolescent peer group formation can help with regard to the relevance of this phenomenon in
the current study.
Groups in early adolescence have previously been described in terms of cliques,
which are small groups made up of linked friendships (Parker, Rubin, Price, & DeRosier,
1995). These reports are consistent with Turners (1987) description of psychological
groups which are subjectively important to the individual. In the current study, younger
adolescent peer counsellors, in particular, continued to be strongly identified with their
friendship groups. It has been suggested that the strength of relationships with friends who
are weakly bonded to an individual is likely to have a minimal influence whereas friends
who are strongly bonded with an individual are likely to have a stronger effect (Tremblay,
Masse, Vitaro, & Dobkin, 1995). These findings might explain why, for younger adolescent
peer counsellors in the current study, support from friendship groups was particularly
important (Table 7.9) and influential, preventing them from assuming a group identity with
other peer counsellors where bonds were not as strong or influential.

222
Researcher reflections from the data concluded that there was some indication that
belonging to the peer counsellor group was less central for younger participants in part
because they were themselves in a process of life transition. As adolescents, early adolescent
peer counsellors may have been strengthening relationships with their small friendship peer
groups which appeared to be more pertinent and important to them and which provided them
with enhanced psychological well being when compared to belonging to the peer counsellor
group. However, it was clear from the high percentage of responses with regard to being
clearly identified in their role as peer counsellors at Time 3 that participants also wanted to
be seen as different from their peers.
Macintosh (2003) described stage two of the process of status passage (realising
practice) as a stage of becoming aware of discrepancies between expectations and real
experiences and attempting balance between them. The high percentage of responses with
regard to being negatively received in their role by their peers compared to being positively
received by peers at Time 3 (Table 7.9) and at Time 4 (Table 7.10) indicated that peer
counsellors were becoming aware of the incongruity between their expectations of being part
of a peer group while also being different from their peer group. Responses such as they
make up false problem, people have been approaching me sarcastically, they say they
would never come to a peer counsellor for help and I have been told lies indicated that
peer counsellors were beginning to experience some stress associated with the reality of
being a peer counsellor. Status difference issues were most important for peer counsellors
three months following training and remained important six months after training compared
to immediately following the training (Table 7.12). Encountering the negativity from peers at
Time 3 may have resulted in participants having to justify their role to others who did not
share their vision. The situation where peer counsellors were clearly experiencing difficulty,
is similar to those experiences identified by Pillhammar-Andersson (1995) in a study

223
exploring the concept of marginality in nursing education during this stage of status passage.
Pillhammar Andersson observed that participants in her study described their experience of
being in the intersection between being a student and professional worker. During this
experience participants expressed uncertainty, loss of status and an identity crisis. For some
students there was a crisis of duality where they were caught between their old loyalty to
their colleagues and a new and developing sense of loyalty to the nurses on the wards. At
this point the feeling of marginality became so intense that they almost completely lost their
sense of self. They were uncertain about where they really belonged as a student or
professional. Similarly, it appears that the participants in the current study experienced
difficulties in moving from membership of their peer group to membership of the peer
counsellor group and understanding the role that friends played in this transition. This crisis
of duality is likely to have contributed to the increased focus on status issues at Time 3.
The high percentage of responses with regard to the category of peer counsellors
need to be clearly identified in the wider school community (Table 7.9) reflected
participants attempts to balance the emerging differences between themselves and their peer
group at Time 3. By becoming more prominent as peer counsellors in the school community,
it is likely that peer counsellors believed that they would be more accepted by their peers.
Balancing expectations and reality was observed in the behaviour of participants in the
current study through responses in the category of promotion of the peer counsellors role.
As well as attempting to justify their role as peer counsellors to others, responses in this
category also indicated an emerging strategy for strengthening the bond between members of
the peer counsellor group.
As discussed earlier, a older adolescent peer counsellors were more disillusioned
about their role in the wider school community at this stage of their status passage (Table
7.6) and more pessimistic with regard to the success of their adjustment strategies than

224
younger adolescent peer counsellors (Table 7.7). Data from Time 4 show that overall, peer
counsellors report stronger and more supportive relationships with friends at Time 3 than at
Time 4 (Tables 7.9 and 7.10), indicating a shift from three months after training to six
months following training. It appears that adopting the identity of peer counsellor was
complicated at three months after training because of the dual social roles in which the
participants were engaged; it is likely that they wanted to maintain their role within their
peer group as well as become identified with the new peer counsellor group. However, it
seems that six months after training participants began to recognise ongoing contact with
friends as a form of support which in fact enabled them to develop their peer counsellor role.
The less important role that peers generally played with regard to support (Table 7.10) was
acknowledged through responses included in the category of relationship with others with
regards to skill acquisition. The responses in this category indicated that participants
believed that their relationships with their peers had changed as a result of learning specific
counselling skills but that their relationship with friendship groups remained important and
supportive. Researcher reflections of the data concluded that these results were an indication
that as a group, peer counsellors were beginning to recognise their membership as a peer
counsellor in the peer counsellor group.
As a group six months after training, peer counsellors actively participated in a range
of strategies in an attempt to differentiate themselves in their developing role including
wearing a badge and producing a promotional video. However, differences continued to exist
between older and younger peer counsellors with regard to whether they should be clearly
identified in the wider school community (Table 7.10). One explanation for the difference
between older and younger peer counsellors with regard to the issue of identification with
the peer counsellor group might be that older adolescents believe they are better able to help
their peers as peer group members rather than as peer counsellor group members. Research

225
with adult subjects shows that there is evidence that membership of a social group can have a
powerful influence on perceptions of what can or cannot be achieved (Hackett, 1995;
Oyserman, 1995). It may be that older adolescent peer counsellors had a perception that as a
member of a peer counsellor group they would not be able to help others as well as they
could as an individual within their wider peer group. Differences between older and younger
participants with regard to issues of identification with the peer counsellor group may also be
explained by personal identity formation literature. As discussed earlier, Allison and Schultz
(2001) found that for early adolescents the exploration and commitment to processes
associated with identity formation were just emerging. As a consequence it may be that the
younger adolescent peer counsellors relied more strongly on group membership to realise
their identity and roles rather than in the more intimate one-to-one relationships which
characterise older adolescent social relationships.
Stage three of the transition process described by McIntosh (2003) involved
developing a reputation. Three strategies were identified at this stage; mentoring, influencing
others impressions and engaging and disengaging with promotional activities.

These

strategies were used by peer counsellors and identified six months after training in the
current study. Firstly, one participant volunteered to become an assistant trainer in a
subsequent peer counsellor training program.

This participant viewed mentoring other

trainees as a way to contribute to their own personal identity as a peer counsellor. Secondly,
several peer counsellors spoke at the school assembly about peer counselling to influence
student impressions of peer counsellors. Additionally, as a group, the peer counsellors
prepared a promotional video which was shown at the school assembly. Thirdly, researcher
reflections of qualitative data concluded that older adolescent peer counsellors were more
likely to engage and disengage with promotional activities.

Older adolescent peer

counsellors were more constrained by competing educational demands and commitments

226
than their younger cohorts. Their commitment to establishing a group identity was marked
by fluctuating commitments to promoting the peer counsellor group. Engaging and
disengaging in promotional activities as described by McIntosh (2003) in her study was seen
to be influenced by several factors; stage of career, opportunity, amounts of personal energy
and time, extent of concern for the future of the profession, vision for the future and amount
of professional pride. It was noted that iterations of this transition process occurred with
participants repeatedly experiencing the stages. In the current study several of these factors
were particularly pertinent for older adolescent peer counsellors such as stage of education,
opportunity, amounts of personal energy and time, and academic and extracurricular
commitment.
Associated factors influencing status cannot be ignored. Evidence indicates that
group identification and global personal self-esteem are robustly related (Cameron, 1999).
Similarly the contextual factor of the wider environment may influence the extent to which
peer counsellors were supported with regard to carrying out their role as peer counsellors.
Finally, adjustment strategies used to cope with the difficulties of role transition will provide
information with regard to whether or not peer counsellors can sustain their role within the
school community. Research questions four and five explored these contextual factors and
results will be reported and discussed in the following chapter.

227
CHAPTER 8
Study 2 Quantitative Data Results and Discussion
The current project aimed to explore and understand the way adolescents make
sense of helping behaviour among themselves. The findings from multiple sources of data
provide a means of enhancing rigour and at times provide opportunity for the results of
one method to inform another. However, the aim in this project was to use a variety of
data collection measures to form diverse platforms for understanding the experience of
participants and thus avoid common limiting assumptions when making conclusions.
Chapter 7 identified differences in the way early and late adolescent peer counsellors
experienced their training and performance in the role of peer counsellor. These
differences were identified from qualitative data and reflect the lived experience of
participants over time. Their responses reflect affective reactions and cognitive
perceptions from their intrapersonal experiences.
The results from the quantitative measures used in Study 2 relate to the effect of
the intervention on participants with regard to the specific domains of emotional
competence, self-concept, coping styles and perceptions of school climate over time.
Quantitative data collection enabled the researcher to continue to pursue the examination
and understanding of participants experience by using self-report measures which
enabled them to continue to tell their story in ways that elicited different and more
objective information than that obtained from the qualitative data.
This chapter continues to report and discuss the results of research questions asked
in Study 2 (questions four and five of the project):
Research Questions
4.

How does a new adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program influence peer
counsellors emotional competence, self-concept, and the coping strategies used?

228
5.

Does a new adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program influence peer


counsellors perceptions of the current school climate?
The chapter will be divided according to the research questions.

Participants
The same participants used to answer research question three (see chapter 7) in
Study 2 were used to answer research questions four and five. Study 2 initially comprised
27 subjects (20 females and seven males) who had completed training in Study 1 in
specific counselling microskills in any one of the subgroups A, B, C or D. During Study 2
seven subjects dropped out of the training program leaving 20 (15 females and five
males) to complete the training. Because of timetabling constraints and study
commitments only 17 subjects were consistently available to complete all measures from
Time 1 through to Time 4. The final group comprised five females from grade eight with
a mean age of 12.6 years, three females and three males from grade nine with a mean age
of 13.1 years, two females from grade 10 with a mean age of 14.6 years, and two females
and two males from grade 11 with a mean age of 15.6 years. The results reported in this
chapter are based on data collected from the 17 subjects who consistently completed the
measures from Time 1 through to Time 4.
Description of the Intervention
A new adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program was developed and
used as the intervention in this study to answer the research questions. This intervention is
described in detail in chapter 7.
Research Question 4
Research question four aimed to discover whether the new adolescent-friendly
peer counsellor training program influenced peer counsellors perceptions of their
emotional competence, self-concept, and coping strategies.

229
Procedure and measures
The Self-Report Emotional Competence Questionnaire (Schutte, et al., 1998) was
used to measure emotional competence. The Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale
(Piers, et al., 1984) was used to assess the self-concept of participants. The Adolescent
Coping Scale (Frydenberg & Lewis 1993) was used to identify the coping strategies used
by participants. Details of these measures and the data gathering procedures are included
in chapter 4.
Analysis
A repeated measures analysis of variance was carried out on all measures to
discover changes over time as a result of the impact of the intervention on the
participants perceptions of their emotional competence, self-concept and coping styles.
Cronbachs alpha was obtained on all measures used in the present study.
Results from qualitative data (chapter 7) indicated differences in some responses
over time between grade eight and nine (early adolescent) participants and grade 10 and
11 (late adolescent) participants with regard to their experience of helping. Because
numbers in each group were small it was not possible to look for significant differences
between early and late adolescent participants on quantitative measures using analysis of
variance. Differences in responses between the two groups identified from qualitative
data stimulated the exploration of possible differences on quantitative data. These
analyses were conducted as part of an exploratory process and not with the aim of finding
significance. Mean scores were examined to explore trends in differences between early
adolescent and late adolescent peer counsellors over time. Mean scores were considered
with regard to shifts and/or differences on the measures of The Self-Report Emotional
Competence Questionnaire, the Piers-Harris Childrens Self-Concept subscales, and the
three coping styles of the Adolescent Coping Scale. Examination of mean scores provided

230
information which thickened the participants story with regard to their experiences as
peer counsellors. Results from the quantitative findings helped in understanding the
phenomena of adolescent peer counselling.
Results
Results of the quantitative data will be reported under the headings of the
quantitative measures used to answer research question four.
The Self-Report Emotional Competence Questionnaire.
Research question four aimed to discover whether involvement in the program
influenced participants self-reports of their emotional competence. Cronbachs alpha was
obtained on the Self-Report Emotional Competence Questionnaire used in the present
study. The internal consistency for the Self-Report Emotional Competence Questionnaire
was .86 confirming its usefulness as a measure in the current project. A repeated
measures analysis of variance was performed on the data for the Self-Report Emotional
Competence Questionnaire to determine whether there was significant change in the total
emotional competence scores over time for peer counsellors as a result of the
intervention. No significant differences were found.
Mean scores for total emotional competence were examined to determine trends in
changes over time for all peer counsellors. Table 8.1 and Figure 8.1 illustrate the mean
scores for emotional competence for peer counsellors over time.
Table 8.1.
Means scores for emotional competence for peer counsellors over time
Time

SD

17

124.38

14.50

17

129.63

15.57

17

128.44

17.13

17

127.00

16.20

231

131
130

Mean Scores

129
128
127
126
125
124

Peer counsellors

123
122
121
1

Time

Figure 8.1. Emotional Competence mean scores for all peer counsellors

Examination of the total emotional competence mean scores for all peer
counsellors point toward differences in mean scores at different times. Participants report
their emotional intelligence to be highest at T2 and at T3 with a slight reduction between
T3 and T4.
Qualitative data suggested differences between early and late adolescent peer
counsellors with regard to their experience in the role of peer counsellor. Results from
qualitative data were used as a stimulus to explore these age group differences. Table 8.2
and Figure 8.2 illustrate the mean scores for emotional competence for early adolescent
peer counsellors and late adolescent peer counsellors over time.

232
Table 8.2
Emotional competence total mean scores for early and late adolescent peer counsellors
over time
Early Adolescents

Late Adolescents

Time

SD

SD

11

124.90

16.90

123.50

10.74

11

130.70

16.66

127.03

14.87

11

132.50

19.13

124.67

15.02

11

132.50

19.12

122.33

11.67

134
132

Mean Scores

130
128
126
124
122
120

Early

118

Late

116
1

Time

Figure 8.2. Mean scores for early and late adolescent peer counsellors on Emotional
Competence

Mean scores for the Self-Report Emotional Competence Questionnaire were


examined to explore trends in the differences over time for early adolescent and late
adolescent participants. Examination of the mean scores for early adolescent peer
counsellors show a steady increase in scores over time with emotional competence scores
being higher at T4 compared to T1. These trends suggest that younger adolescents may
see themselves as increasing in emotional competence over time. Specifically, they
indicate that older adolescent peer counsellors report their emotional intelligence as

233
diminishing from T1 to T4, and that older adolescent peer counsellors report their
emotional competence as increasing to peak at T2 but then declining to below preintervention levels at T4.
Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale.
As well as examining the effect of the program on emotional intelligence research
question four also aimed to discover whether involvement in the program influenced the
participants self-concept. For the present study, the internal consistency for the subscales
of the Piers Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale ranged from .75 to .83. A repeated
measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed on the data from the Piers-Harris
Childrens Self-concept Scale to determine whether there were significant differences in
subscale scores for peer counsellors over time. While most of the subscale names are selfexplanatory, they merit some description to help in understanding the impact of the
intervention. Behaviour, for example, involves school, home and social behaviour (e.g.,
getting into trouble, being well-behaved). Intellectual and School Status includes such
self-descriptors as smart, volunteering, being an important member of the class and
contributing to the class. Physical Appearance includes classmates thinking I have good
ideas and being a leader, along with several body image items. Anxiety involves worry,
being afraid and giving up easily along with other more general measures of the self.
Popularity includes some self-evident items along with associated items such as my
classmates in school think I have good ideas and I am different from other people.
Happiness and satisfaction is self-explanatory and items measure these attributes.
Subscales are scored in the direction of positive self-concept so that a high score indicates
a high level of assessed self-concept within that specific dimension.
No significant differences over time for peer counsellors as a result of the
intervention were found on the subscales of Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale.

234
Although there were no significant differences (and small group size prevented any valid
analysis of this kind), mean scores for the subscales were studied to explore trends over
time for peer counsellors. Table 8.3 and Figure 8.3 illustrate the mean scores for selfconcept subscales for peer counsellors over time.
Table 8.3
Mean scores and standard deviations for peer counsellors on the Piers-Harris Childrens Selfconcept subscales over time
Behaviour

Status

Appearance

Anxiety

Popularity

Happiness

Time
1

n
17

M
SD
14.24 2.04

M
12.35

SD
4.13

M
8.41

SD
3.00

M
10.41

SD
2.93

M
7.82

SD
2.78

M
8.94

SD
1.08

17

14.00 2.52

13.94

3.21

9.65

2.49

10.59

3.65

9.06

2.38

8.71

2.02

17

14.41 2.15

14.59

3.06

10.94

3.17

11.06

2.58

9.53

2.03

8.14

1.95

17

14.07 1.49

13.13

3.40

9.94

2.96

10.88

2.96

9.69

1.44

9.19

1.10

16
14

Mean Scores

12
10
8
Status

Appearance
4

Freedom from Anxiety


Popularity

2
0
1

Time

Figure 8.3. Difference between subscale scores of Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept


Scale

235
Consideration of mean scores indicates that on the subscales of Status,
Appearance, Freedom from Anxiety, and Popularity, peer counsellors appear to report
consistent improvement over baseline self-reports to T3 with a deterioration from T3 to
T4 on the all the subscales except for Popularity. However, mean scores show an overall
slight improvement from T1 to T4 on all these subscales. Mean scores convey that
Behaviour and Happiness subscales remained fairly stable over time.
The subscales of Status, Appearance, Freedom from Anxiety and Popularity were
of particular interest to the current study. Results indicate that the mean scores on the
subscales of Appearance, Status, Freedom from Anxiety, and Popularity appear to be
highest at T3. On the subscale of Appearance at T3 it seems that peer counsellors reported
feeling more positive than at T1 with regard to their appearance as well as with regard to
attributes such as leadership and the ability to express ideas. Mean scores illustrate that on
the subscales of Status and Popularity at T3 peer counsellors may have felt more equal to
their peers than at T1, as well as suggesting that peer counsellors felt as though they were
important member of their peer group and were well respected. Mean scores for Freedom
from Anxiety suggest that peer counsellors felt slightly more content with themselves at
T3 than at T1 with lesser major emotional worries or fears. In addition mean scores also
suggest that Status dropped markedly at T4. It may be that participants were feeling less
respected by and less important or equal to their peers at T4 when compared with their
perceptions at T3.
Because qualitative results suggested differences between early and late
adolescent peer counsellors, mean scores for the subscales of the Piers-Harris Childrens
Self-concept Scale were explored to determine trends in the differences over time for
early adolescent (grade 8/9) and late adolescent (grade 10/11) participants. Tables 8.4 to

236
8.7 and Figures 8.4 to 8.7 illustrate the mean scores for the Piers-Harris subscales for
early adolescent peer counsellors and late adolescent peer counsellors over time.
Mean score differences between early and late adolescent peer counsellors on the
subscales of Behaviour and Happiness indicated little difference and could not be
considered influential on participants experiences as peer counsellors. Therefore mean
score differences were not examined on these subscales to determine trends in the
differences over time for early and late adolescent peer counsellors.
Table 8.4 and Figure 8.4 illustrate the mean scores for the Status subscale for early
and late adolescent peer counsellors over time.

Table 8.4
Status subscale mean scores for early and late adolescent peer counsellors over time
Early Adolescents

Late Adolescents

Status
Time
1

n
11

M
13.18

SD
2.82

n
6

M
9.33

SD
3.61

11

14.00

2.56

12.83

4.07

11

14.82

1.53

14.67

1.21

11

15.00

1.61

12.20

4.14

237

16
14

Mean Scores

12
10
8
Early

Late

4
2
0
1

Time

Figure 8.4. Difference between early and late adolescent peer counsellors on Status
subscale

Examination of means score results are consistent with the suggestion that both
early and late adolescent peer counsellors report a steady increase in their positive self
assessment of their ability with respect to intellectual tasks and positive appraisal from
others to T3. At T4, while early adolescent peer counsellors report further positive selfassessment, late adolescents scores reflect the opposite.
Tables 8.5 and Figure 8.5 illustrate the mean scores for the Appearance subscale
for early and late adolescent peer counsellors over time.

238
Table 8.5
Appearance subscale mean scores for early and late adolescent peer counsellors over
time
Early Adolescence

Late Adolescence

Appearance
Time
1

n
11

M
9.82

SD
2.40

n
6

M
5.83

SD
2.22

11

10.18

2.63

8.67

2.65

11

10.64

3.74

11.52

1.87

11

10.73

2.53

9.17

2.63

14

Mean Scores

12
10
8
6
Early

Late

2
0
1

Time

Figure 8.5. Difference between early and late adolescent peer counsellors on Appearance
subscale

This subscale reflects the participants attitudes concerning their physical


appearance as well as attributes such as leadership and the ability to express good ideas.
Both early and late peer counsellors appear to report improvement in this subscale from
T1 to T3. At T4, while early adolescent peer counsellors report further positive self-

239
assessment in this domain, late adolescents scores reflect a decline in their appraisal of
these traits.
Tables 8.6 and Figure 8.6 illustrate the mean scores for the Freedom from Anxiety
subscale for early and late adolescent peer counsellors over time.
Table 8.6
Freedom from anxiety subscale mean scores for early and late adolescent peer
counsellors over time
Early Adolescents
Freedom from Anxiety

Late Adolescents

Time
1

n
11

M
1118

SD
2.27

n
6

M
9.00

SD
3.68

11

10.55

3.44

11.50

2.34

11

11.27

2.83

11.17

2.22

11

11.09

2.50

9.67

1.94

14

Mean Scores

12
10
8
6
Early

Late

2
0
1

Time

Figure 8.6. Difference between early and late adolescent peer counsellors on Freedom
from Anxiety subscale

For late adolescent peer counsellors mean score differences reflect self reports of
less anxiety at T2, immediately following training, but convey more vulnerability with
regard to troubling moods and thoughts at T3 and further at T4. Mean scores are

240
consistent with the suggestion that early adolescent peer counsellors however, find moods
and thought more troubling at T2, then become freer from anxiety over time.
Tables 8.7 and Figure 8.7 illustrate the mean scores for the Popularity subscale for
early and late adolescent peer counsellors over time.
Table 8.7
Popularity subscale mean scores for early and late adolescent peer counsellors over time
Early Adolescents

Late Adolescents

Popularity
Time
1

n
11

M
9.00

SD
2.36

n
6

M
5.67

SD
2.25

11

9.45

2.01

8.33

3.01

11

9.64

2.11

9.50

2.89

11

10.27

1.42

8.00

1.26

12

Mean Scores

10
8
6
4
Early
2

Late

0
1

Time

Figure 8.7. Difference between early and late adolescent peer counsellors on Popularity
subscale

Mean scores show a slight but gradual increase in peer counsellors positive
evaluation of popularity with classmates and peers for early adolescents and a more
marked increase for later adolescents from T1 to T3. At T4 however, late adolescent peer

241
counsellors appear to report more negative evaluations of themselves and early
adolescents appear to report an increase in their perceptions of their popularity.
On the subscales of Status, Appearance, Freedom from Anxiety and Popularity,
differences in mean scores are consistent with the suggestion that late adolescent peer
counsellors report elevated evaluations of their self-concept at T3. However, late
adolescent peer counsellors appear to report more negative evaluations at T4. This is not
the same for early adolescent peer counsellors where differences in mean scores are
consistent with the suggestion of elevated evaluations at T3 with either reported
improvement in, or steady self-concept on, these subscales at T4.
The Adolescent Coping Scale
Research question four included discovering whether involvement in the
adolescent peer counsellor training program and functioning in the role of peer counsellor
influenced the way participants coped with their own difficulties. The Adolescent Coping
Scale was used to address this part of the question.
As described in chapter 7, the Adolescent Coping Scale can be scored on three
factors which have been called Solving the Problem, Reference to Others and NonProductive Coping. Scoring on these factor scores are adjusted so that the three factors
can be directly compared with each other in relation to the frequency of use of each style
of coping. Higher scores indicate that the style of coping is used a great deal whereas low
scores indicate that the style of coping is not used at all.
The internal consistency using Cronbachs alpha was obtained for the Adolescent
Coping Scale coping styles, for the current study. In the current project, Cronbachs alpha
was .90 for Solving The Problem, .77 for Reference to Others and .90 for Non-Productive
Coping.

242
The Solving the Problem factor represents a style of coping characterised by
working at a problem while remaining optimistic, fit, relaxed and socially connected. The
subscales included in this factor are solving problems, seek relaxing diversions, physical
recreation, seek to belong, work hard and achieve, focus on the positive, invest in close
friends and seek social support. The Reference to Others factor is characterised by
attending to others for support whether they are peers, professional or deities. The
subscales included in this factor are seeking spiritual support, seeking professional help
and social action. The Non-productive Coping factor represents a combination of nonproductive avoidance strategies that have been empirically associated with an inability to
cope. The subscales of this factor include worry, wishful thinking, not cope, ignore the
problem, tension reduction, keep to self and self-blame.
A repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed to ascertain
whether the coping styles used by peer counsellors significantly changed over time. No
significant differences were found on the coping style of Solving the Problem, Reference
to Others, or Non-Productive Coping.
Qualitative results discussed in chapter 7 suggested differences between early and
late adolescent peer counsellors. Results from qualitative data have been used as a
stimulus to explore these age-group differences quantitatively. Tables 8.8 to 8.10 present
the mean scores for each of the three coping styles of the Adolescent Coping Scale for
early adolescent peer counsellors (grade 8/9) and late adolescent peer counsellors (grade
10/11) over time. Figure 8.8 illustrates the differences between the degrees to which early
adolescent peer counsellors use all three coping styles. Figure 8.9 illustrates the
differences between the degrees to which late adolescent peer counsellors use all three
coping styles.

243
Table 8.8.
Problem solving style mean scores for early and late adolescent peer counsellors
Early Adolescents

Late Adolescents

Problem
Solving
Time
1

n
11

M
3.51

SD
.47

n
6

M
3.73

SD
.56

11

3.29

.47

3.82

.54

11

3.46

.45

3.83

.38

11

3.49

.56

3.44

.44

Table 8.9.
Reference to Others style mean scores for early and late adolescent peer counsellors
Early Adolescents

Late Adolescents

Reference to
Others
Time

SD

SD

11

2.57

.58

2.32

.61

11

2.22

.56

2.59

.20

11

2.43

.49

2.55

.24

11

2.37

.62

2.46

.23

Table 8.10.
Non-Productive style mean scores for early and late adolescent peer counsellors
Early Adolescents

Late Adolescents

Nonproductive
Time
1

n
11

M
2.34

SD
.39

n
6

M
2.63

SD
.23

11

2.36

.61

2.84

.25

11

2.50

.48

2.59

.40

11

2.67

.66

2.61

.61

244

4
3.5

Mean Scores

3
2.5
2
Problem Solving

1.5

Reference to Others

Non-productive coping

0.5
0
1

Time

Figure 8.8. Difference between the degrees of use of coping styles over time for early
adolescent peer counsellors.

4.5
4

Mean Scores

3.5
3
2.5
2
Problem Solving

1.5

Reference to Others

Non-productive

0.5
0
1

Time

Figure 8.9. Difference between the degrees of use of coping styles over time for
late adolescent peer counsellors

Exploration of mean scores are consistent with the suggestion that Problem
Solving coping strategies were used frequently by both early and late adolescent peer
counsellors (Fig. 8.8) from prior to the intervention to six months post-intervention. Mean
scores also convey the notion that Non-Productive coping strategies were used

245
sometimes. From T2 to T4 mean scores show that there appears to be an increase in the
use of problem solving strategies for early adolescent peer counsellors. For late
adolescents mean scores suggest that there appears to be a slight increase in the use of
problem-solving strategies from T2 to T3 followed by a decrease from T3 to T4. From T2
to T3 mean scores suggest that there appears to be an increase in non-productive coping
strategies for early adolescents and a decrease for late adolescents. From T3 to T4 there
appears to be an increase in Non-Productive coping style for both groups.
Strategies involving Reference to Others appear to be used very little over time,
by both groups but mean scores suggest that these strategies may have been used most at
T2.
Figure 8.10 illustrates the differences between the degree to which early and late
adolescent peer counsellors use the Problem Solving Style.
3.9
3.8

Mean Scores

3.7
3.6
3.5
3.4
3.3
Early

3.2

Late

3.1
3
1

Time

Figure 8.10. Differences between the degree to which early and late adolescent peer
counsellors use the Problem Solving style

As shown in Figure 8.10 both early and late adolescent peer counsellors appear to
use Problem Solving strategies frequently. Late adolescent peer counsellors seem to make

246
use of Problem Solving strategies most at T2 and T3, immediately following the training
and after three months. Early adolescent peer counsellors seem to make use of Problem
Solving strategies least at T2, but their use of these strategies appears to increase from T2
to T3. From T3 to T4 mean scores show that late adolescent peer counsellors may rely on
Problem Solving strategies less, while early adolescent peer counsellors may rely on
Problem Solving strategies more.
Figure 8.11 illustrates the differences between the degree to which early and late
adolescent peer counsellors used the Reference to Others coping style.
2.7

2.6

Mean Scores

2.5

2.4

2.3

2.2

Early
Late

2.1

Time

Figure 8.11. Differences between the degree to which early and late adolescent peer
counsellors use the Reference to Others style

Figure 8.11 shows that strategies included in the coping style of Reference To
Others were used very little over time by both early and late adolescent peer counsellors.
At T2, T3 and T4 it appears that late adolescent peer counsellors made use of strategies
involving Reference to Others more than early adolescent peer counsellors. While it

247
seems that late adolescent peer counsellors relied more on Reference to Others at T2 than
early adolescent peer counsellors, both groups used this coping style less from T3 to T4.
Figure 8.12 illustrates the differences between the degree to which early and late
adolescent peer counsellors use the Non-productive coping style.
3

Mean Scores

2.5
2
1.5
1
Early
0.5

Late

0
1

Time

Figure 8.12. Differences between the degree to which early and late adolescent peer
counsellors use the Non-Productive coping style

Figure 8.12 shows that Non-Productive coping strategies appear to be used very
little to sometimes for both early and late adolescent peer counsellors over time.
Generally Non-Productive coping strategies seem to be used more by late adolescent peer
counsellors than early adolescent peer counsellors. The largest differences in use appear
to be at T1 and T2 as shown in Figure 8.12.
Research Question 5
Research question five aimed to discover whether the new adolescent-friendly
peer counsellor training program influenced peer counsellors perceptions of the current
school climate.

248
Procedure and measures
With regard to their experience of helping, results from qualitative data indicated
differences in some responses over time between grade eight and nine (early adolescent)
participants and grade 10 and 11 (late adolescent) participants. Because numbers in each
group were small it was not possible to look for differences between early and late
adolescent participants using analysis of variance. Instead total mean scores on the School
Climate Survey were explored to identify trends in differences between early adolescent
and late adolescent peer counsellors over time. Examination of mean scores was
stimulated by qualitative findings and helped in further understanding the phenomena of
adolescent peer counselling.
Results
The School Climate Survey
The School Climate Survey was developed by the researcher and a full description
of its development, and psychometric analysis, can be found in chapter 5. Research
question five aimed to discover whether involvement in an adolescent-friendly peer
counsellor training program influenced participants perceptions of the current school
climate over time. To answer this question the School Climate Survey was used.
Cronbachs alpha for the School Climate Survey was .89 for Factor 1, and .88 for Factor
2, indicating reliability for both Factor 1 and Factor 2 as subscales of the School Climate
Survey. A repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed on the factor
scores and the total school climate scores to discover whether there were changes in peer
counsellors perceptions of school climate over time. Factor 1, Student Perceptions of
Student Relationships, pertained to the way in which students related with each other,
Student expectations regarding peer relationships, the way in which students relate with
adults and prosocial behaviour among students. Factor 2, Student Perceptions of

249
Teachers relationships with Students and other Staff, primarily related to students
perceptions of their experiences with teachers and other staff, teacher/staff behaviours
with students, and the interactions between teachers, staff and parents. Overall School
Climate Total reflects participants perceptions of cognitive/managerial and psychosocial
dimensions of school climate. School climate total and factor scores are scored in the
direction of positive perceptions of school climate so that a high score indicates a positive
assessment of student relationships with students, teachers relationships with students
and other staff, and the total school climate.
No significant changes were found on Factor 1, Student Perceptions of Student
Relationships, Factor 2, Student Perceptions of Teachers relationships with Students and
other Staff, or the School Climate Total.
Mean scores for the Factors and Total School Climate Score were examined to
explore trends in changes over time for peer counsellors. Table 8.11 illustrates the mean
scores for peer counsellors on the Total School Climate and on the factors of Student
Perceptions of Student Relationships, and Student Perceptions of Teachers Relationships
with Students and other Staff over time. Figure 8.13 illustrates the Total School Climate
mean scores for all peer counsellors over time and Figure 8.14 illustrates the differences
between factor mean scores on school climate for all peer counsellors over time.

250
Table 8.11.
Mean scores and standard deviations for peer counsellors on factor scores and total
school climate score of the School Climate Survey over time
School Climate Total

Time

Student
Perceptions of
Student
Relationships

Student Perceptions of
Teachers relationships
with Students and other
Staff

n
17

M
154.06

SD
21.14

M
74.56

SD
12.82

M
59.82

SD
11.14

17

154.20

24.46

75.81

15.73

58.00

14.54

17

151.00

15.15

75.50

12.29

55.47

8.94

17

142.93

11.00

73.25

49.53

10.93

12.15

156

Mean Scores

154
152
150
148
146
144

Peer Counsellors

142
140
138
136
1

Time

Figure 8.13. Total School Climate scores for all peer counsellors over time.

251

80
70

Student Perceptions of
Student Relationships

Mean Scores

60
50
40

Student Perceptions
ofTeachers' relationships
with Students and other
Staff

30
20
10
0
1

Time

Figure 8.14. Differences between factor scores for all peer counsellors over time.

Exploration of mean scores of the School Climate Total suggest a trend


indicating that a positive perception of the school climate was highest at T2 and lowest at
T4, at levels below those prior to the intervention. Exploration of the mean scores of
Student Perceptions of Student Relationships (Factor 1) and Students Perceptions of
Teachers Relationships with Students and Other Staff (Factor 2) are consistent with the
suggestion that peer counsellors perceptions decreased over time from T1 to T4.
Because numbers in each group were small it was not possible to look for
differences between early adolescent (grade 8/9) and late adolescent (grade 10/11) peer
counsellors using an analysis of variance. Consequently mean scores for the Total School
Climate, Factor 1 (Student Perceptions of Student relationships) and Factor 2 (Student
Perceptions of Teachers Relationships with Students and other Staff) were explored to
determine trends in differences between early and late adolescent peer counsellors with
regard to their perceptions of school climate over time. Table 8.12 to 8.14 and Figures
8.15 to 8.17 illustrate the mean scores for school climate for early adolescent peer
counsellors and late adolescent peer counsellors over time.

252

Table 8.12
Mean scores for School Climate Total for early adolescent peer counsellors and late
adolescent peer counsellors over time.
Early Adolescent

Late Adolescent

Time
1

n
11

M
152.81

SD
17.30

n
6

M
156.83

SD
24.91

11

141.81

14.03

167.66

32.24

11

142.81

10.68

153.33

22.64

11

153.54

9.95

143.00

27.05

170
165

Mean Scores

160
155
150

Early

145

Late

140
135
130
125
1

Time

Figure 8.15. Differences between early and late adolescent peer counsellors on School
Climate Total

Mean scores suggest that early adolescent peer counsellors perceived school
climate to be more negative at T2 than at T1 but that they appear to gradually become
more optimistic and positive about the school climate over time. By contrast late
adolescent peer counsellors appear to perceive their school climate to be more positive at

253
T2 than at T1 but gradually seem to become more negative about the school climate over
time.
Table 8.13.
Mean scores for Student Perceptions of Student Relationships for early and late
adolescent peer counsellors over time
Early Adolescent

Late Adolescent

Student Relationships with


Students
n
11

M
73.45

SD
10.56

n
6

M
69.17

SD
14.68

11

68.18

6.70

77.83

18.88

11

71.45

8.31

75.50

16.95

11

74.55

8.14

66.67

19.56

Mean Scores

Time
1

80
78
76
74
72
70
68
66
64

Early

62
60

Late
1

Time

Figure 8.16. Differences between early and late adolescent peer counsellors on
Student Perceptions of Student Relationships

Differences in mean scores between early and late adolescent peer counsellors
show that late adolescents appear to have their most positive views about student
relationships with students at T2 (see Figure 8.16). However, changes in mean scores
convey the notion that these perceptions become increasingly negative until they fall

254
below baseline levels at T4. For early adolescent peer counsellors, perceptions with
regard to student relationships with students appear to be most negative at T2 but become
more positive at T3 and rise above baseline levels at T4.
Table 8.14.
Mean scores for Student perceptions of Teachers Relationships with Students and other
Staff for early and late adolescent peer counsellors over time
Early Adolescent

Late Adolescent

Teachers relationships with


students and other staff
Time
1

n
11

M
57.55

SD
11.79

n
6

M
64.00

SD
9.42

11

46.73

14.24

65.00

11.91

11

54.27

8.63

57.67

9.89

11

55.36

11.49

52.67

14.84

70
60

Mean Scores

50
40
30
Early

20

Late
10
0
1

Time

Figure 8.17. Differences between early and late adolescent peer counsellors on Student
Perceptions of Teachers Relationships with Students and other Staff

From T1 to T2 late adolescent peer counsellors appear to report more positive


perceptions of teachers relationships with students and other staff than early adolescent

255
peer counsellors. Mean score differences between early and late adolescents reflect an
increase in positive perceptions from T1 to T2. From T2 to T4 the perceptions of late
adolescent peer counsellors seem to continually decrease on this factor whereas the
perceptions of early adolescent peer counsellors continuously increased on this factor,
with the early adolescent peer counsellors reporting more positive perceptions than late
adolescent peer counsellors at T4.
Discussion of Quantitative Data
Research question four aimed to discover how a new adolescent-friendly peer
counsellor training program influenced the peer counsellors reports of emotional
competence, self-concept, and coping strategies. Research question five aimed to discover
how a new adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program, influenced the peer
counsellors perceptions of the current school climate. Four psychometric assessments
were used to address these questions with the aim of broadening the researchers
understanding of the phenomena of adolescent peer counselling. Because subject numbers
were small, investigation of whether there were differences between the responses of
early and late adolescent peer counsellors was explored by studying differences in mean
scores which might suggest trends of interest. The above results will be discussed under
the headings of the measures used.
The Self-Report Emotional Competence Questionnaire.
The Self-Report Emotional Competence Questionnaire was used to discover the
differences in peer counsellors self-reports of their emotional intelligence over time as a
result of the training program and their experience as peer counsellors in the wider school
community. Emotional intelligence is best viewed as an information processing set of
skills involving perception, understanding, and management of emotional behaviour
(Berkeley, Storino & Saarni, 2003). Saarni (1990) describes emotional competence as the

256
demonstration of self-efficacy in social transactions. As mentioned in the previous
discussion with regard to skill implementation the skills of emotional intelligence are
operationalised when using counselling microskills and reflect the individuals emotional
competence or self-efficacy in social transactions. Results from The Self-Report
Emotional Competence Questionnaire reveal how peer counsellors judge themselves with
regard to using their emotional intelligence to create and maintain helping relationships,
which will enhance their peers well being and also enable the peer counsellors
themselves to cope with their own well being at the same time.
There were no significant differences with regard to changes on total emotional
intelligence scores over time for peer counsellors. When mean scores from The SelfReport Emotional Competence Questionnaire were explored, and the outcomes suggested
that it was not useful to look at scores for all peer counsellors as a group. Data suggested
that for late adolescent peer counsellors, from immediately following the training, mean
scores decreased continuously, whereas for early adolescent peer counsellors mean scores
increased.
Saarni (1990) proposes that emotional competence may be promoted in a variety
of ways either through formal curricula to address issues related to emotional competence
or through Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs such as those developed by
Elias et al. (1997) and Payton et al. (2000). The content of the peer counsellor training
program involved training in the use of social and emotional competencies. Consistent
with Saarnis (1990) proposition, immediately following training in the current study,
mean scores rose implying that emotional competence was promoted as a result of the
training (Table 8.1).
Mean scores from The Self-Report Emotional Competence Questionnaire revealed
differences between early and late adolescent peer counsellors with regard to using their

257
emotional intelligence to create and maintain helping relationships with their peers. The
findings (Table 8.2 and Figure 8.2) are consistent with the suggestion that younger peer
counsellors in this study judged themselves more competent after training with regard to
using their emotional intelligence to create and maintain helping relationships with their
peers than before training. These outcomes are consistent with the suggestion that the
peer counsellor training program and experience as a peer counsellor may have
contributed to teaching and/or enhancing emotional competence in younger adolescents in
this project. It is interesting to note that these reports continue to rise with time. However,
these trends need to be considered cautiously. Saarni (1999) suggests that the skills of
emotional competence may also be developmentally variable. That is, their manifestation
in younger adolescents is more concrete, and more situationally bound. Additionally,
Saarni reminds the reader that emotional competence is not a trait that resides in the child
but rather characterises a set of skills that are learned and applied to dynamic encounters
with the social environment. Therefore differences between younger and older adolescent
peer counsellors identified as a result of exploration of means from The Self-Report
Emotional Competence Questionnaire may reflect issues to do with how participants selfreport at different times rather than measuring differences between participants
emotional intelligence.
Little research has examined the usefulness of emotional intelligence self-report
measures in adolescents (Spirito et al., 1991). Ciarrochi, Chan and Bajgar (2001) suggest
that this lack of research is perhaps justified by the limitations of self-report measures,
which include the potential that adolescents will distort their responses for reasons of
social desirability and will not have sufficient insight into their own emotional
intelligence to accurately report it. This suggestion might well be of relevance when

258
examining the differences between early and late adolescent peer counsellors obtained in
the current study.
Bacchini and Magliulo (2003) assessed differences in self-image and perceived
self-efficacy in early, middle and late adolescence. They hypothesised that older
adolescents would describe themselves in a more positive way than younger adolescents.
They did not confirm this hypothesis. Instead they found that during the last phase of
adolescence social optimism tends to diminish and the area of interpersonal relations no
longer constitutes the centre around which to construct ones identity. They also
discovered a weakening of perception of personal efficacy and increased difficulty coping
with negative emotions by older adolescents. They suggest that this results from the
cumulative effect of stress from failures experienced over time. These findings fit with
the outcomes implied by the current study. Late adolescent peer counsellors only
expressed higher levels of confidence and competence with regard to their
social/emotional transactions with others, after the initial training when it might be
expected that they would be feeling positive with regard to their emotional competence.
However, with time they re-evaluated their efficacy more negatively. This may well have
occurred as a result of late adolescent peer counsellors being sensitive to negative
feedback from their peers.
The findings of Bacchini and Magliulo (2003) suggest that there are
developmental differences in perceived self-efficacy between early, middle and late
adolescence. These findings are relevant to outcomes suggested from The Self-Report
Emotional Competence Questionnaire in the current study which infer that while the peer
counsellor training program and experience as a peer counsellor may teach, raise
awareness of, and/or enhance emotional competence skills, that with time late adolescent
peer counsellors may re-evaluate their efficacy negatively with regard to using emotional

259
competence skills whereas the early adolescent peer counsellors continue to evaluate their
efficacy more positively.
The Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale
In previous research it has been found that the training of peer counsellors, and
acting in the role of a peer counsellor, influences the self-concept of peer helpers
positively (Abu-Rasain & Williams, 1999; Carbonell, Reinherz, & Giaconia, 1998;
Kohler & Strain, 1990; Price & Jones, 2001; Turner, 1999; Varenhorst, 1992).
Examination of the means in Table 8.3 and Figure 8.3 in the current study shows that the
outcomes are consistent with these findings on all subscales except for Behaviour and
Happiness. Following peer counsellor training and while acting in the role of peer
counsellor, participants self reports of self-concept on the subscales of Status,
Appearance, Freedom from Anxiety and Popularity improved. However, the subscales of
Behaviour and Happiness remained stable over time. Both early and late adolescent peer
counsellors were affected in these areas of self-concept with the mean scores improving
over baseline self-reports (Tables 8.4 to 8.7).
Self-concept, self-esteem, and self-worth are considered to be terms that are
interchangeable (Bracken & Mills, 1994; Gans, Kenny & Ghany, 2003). Piers (1994)
contended that the terms self-esteem and self-regard are interchangeable with the selfconcept measured by the Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale used in the present
study. Self-concept as measured by this instrument is reported to be relatively stable but is
also affected by the child's reference group (Piers, 1984). Research has also shown that
adolescents descriptions of self-attributes depend on which social role they are being
asked to describe (Harter & Monsour, 1992). Markus and Nurius (1986) describe selfconcept as a more expansive phenomenon than is reflected by traditional views. They
suggest that the phenomena of self-concept should be examined not as a single

260
generalised view of the self but rather as the current or working self-concept. In view of
this research, examination of mean scores on specific domains over time was seen to be
more useful in the current study than examining global self-concept when exploring the
relationship between the participants self-concept and their experience as a peer
counsellor.
Previous studies examining changes in self-concept of adolescent peer helpers
only reported changes in global self-concept scores. They did not examine changes in
particular domains of self-concept such as those measured by the subscales of the PiersHarris Childrens Self-concept Scale. Bracken and Mills (1994) suggest that when selfconcept scales are used to evaluate the effects of interventions on subjects specific areas
of functioning, a multi-dimensional model is an important consideration. Unlike the
previous studies mentioned, the outcomes of the current study considered the influence of
peer counsellor training on varying domains of self-concept.
In his study exploring the impact of a social intervention strategy on adolescent
personality subgroups, Rosenberg (2002) discovered that the program had a major impact
on the Piers-Harris subscales of Status, Popularity and Physical Appearance. Status as
measured by the Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale involves participants feeling
equal or superior to peers, being an important member of the class and being well
respected for their ideas. The subscale of Popularity reflects subjects feelings about
themselves in peer relationships. The subscale of physical Appearance and attributes
reflects subjects self- appraisal of the traits of physical appearance as well as attributes
such as leadership and the ability to express good ideas.
The social intervention strategy used in the Rosenberg (2002) study used a mix of
educational and sociological methods to teach prosocial skills. The adolescent-friendly
peer counsellor training program developed and used in the current study is also a social

261
intervention strategy and makes use of educational and sociological methods to teach
prosocial skills. Outcomes in the current study are consistent with Rosenbergs (2002)
findings, as in the current study positive changes on participants self-concept appear to
have occurred in the areas of Status, Popularity, Physical Appearance and Attributes.
While the overall change on all three aspects of peer counsellor self-concept from
prior to the intervention to six months following the intervention suggests a positive
change, there did appear to be some differences between early and late adolescent peer
counsellors. Self-concept, as reported by both early and late adolescent peer counsellors
seemed to improve over time with regard to status, popularity, and physical appearance
and attributes, from prior to the intervention to three months post-intervention. However,
from three months post-intervention to six months post-intervention differences are
suggested between early and late adolescent peer counsellors. Early adolescents scores
suggest continual improvement in reports of self-concept whereas for late adolescents
there seems to be a decline in self-concept on these scales. Late adolescent peer
counsellors perceptions may reflect a possible internalisation of the low appraisal of
others with regard to status when compared to their younger cohorts. They indicate a
decline in positive self-assessment of their physical appearance and attributes of
leadership and, with regard to popularity, late adolescent peer counsellors reports suggest
a more negative evaluation of themselves.
There were other differences noted between early and late adolescent peer
counsellors. With regard to anxiety, early adolescents self-reports showed them as
feeling more anxious immediately following the training than at any other time. This
suggests that the task of learning peer counselling skills may have been experienced as
stressful for early adolescent participants. Their reported level of anxiety then reduced at
three months post-intervention and even further at six months post-intervention. In

262
contrast, for late adolescent peer counsellors, they report that their anxiety increased from
immediately following training to six months post-intervention. One possible explanation
for these differences might relate to the buffer effect discussed by Pizzamiglio (2003)
who discovered that in early adolescence popularity acted as a buffer which moderated
the association between average levels of perceived social competence and anxiety. An
increase in scores on the subscales of Popularity for early adolescent peer counsellors
suggests the possibility of popularitys role as a protective factor against anxiety in the
current study.
Youngs et al. (1990) and Garton and Pratt (1995) found a negative relationship
between stressful events and self-concept in adolescents. Youngs et al. found that
stressful events tend to have a greater effect with increasing age. Garton and Pratt also
found a significant relationship between age and the negative effect of stress, with older
students reporting stressful events as having a greater negative effect. Outcomes, implied
in the current study, suggest that anxiety increased from three months post-intervention to
six months post-intervention for late adolescent peer counsellors signifying that acting in
the role of peer counsellor may have been experienced as increasingly stressful.
Adolescent Coping Scale
When adolescents have difficulties or problems they use strategies to cope with
them. Frydenberg (1997) suggests that there are no inherently right or wrong coping
strategies but that it is important that adolescents learn to judge circumstances as being
within their control and that they expand their repertoire to use more of the available
strategies in appropriate contexts. In interpreting the results of the Adolescent Coping
Scale, it is important to emphasise that the function of coping strategies is to alleviate the
anxiety and stress associated with problems or difficulties experienced so that the young
person feels better.

263
In the current study, the overall results suggest that peer counsellors relied
strongly on a Problem Solving coping style, using productive strategies, to deal with
stressful issues that arose for them from prior to the intervention to six months following
the intervention. A Non-Productive coping style was also used, very little to sometimes.
Strategies involving social support, in the form of Reference to Others coping style, were
used very little.
It is tempting to think that because peer counsellors made most use of productive
coping strategies that they would not use non-productive strategies. The findings in the
current study, however, make it clear that the peer counsellors used productive strategies
and also sometimes non-productive strategies. These findings are similar to those found
by Frydenberg and Lewis (2002) when examining the coexistence of productive and nonproductive coping strategies in adolescents. They suggest that the link between productive
and non-productive strategies is a naturally occurring one. As in the current study they
asked subjects to report on their concerns in general rather than with regard to a specific
concern. Consequently, there may be a range of concerns represented, which could
explain the range of strategies used. It may be that some concerns elicit productive
responses whereas others stimulate Non-Productive coping. Additionally, it may not only
be the nature of the concern that leads to a wide range of coping responses but perhaps the
extent of concern about a particular issue which may also influence the coping response
used. The findings in the current study support the notion that the use of productive and
Non-Productive coping strategies naturally coexists.
Social support has generally been considered to be an important factor in coping
(Cohen & Wills, 1985; Dakof & Taylor, 1990; Furrer & Skinner, 2003; Sarason, Pierce &
Sarason, 1990). What is interesting to note in the current study is that peer counsellors
appear to have made little use of Reference to Others, the coping style which is

264
characterised by attending to others for support (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1997). In a study
examining the relationship between young peoples declared inability to cope and coping
styles, Frydenberg and Lewis (2002) discovered that more use of Reference to Others was
predictive of less ability to cope and suggest that this finding may indicate that strategies
like seeking social support and seeking professional help are at times an index of
dependence rather than an indication of a capacity to cope effectively. Because peer
counsellors in the current study made little use of Reference to Others, it seems likely that
they had good coping skills and did not need to be dependent on others.
Social support can be construed as a moderator of stress as it includes gaining
advice and assistance from family friends or teachers (Compas, 1987). Previous research
relating to the stress-buffering effects of social support is not conclusive (Frydenberg &
Lewis, 2004) with both conceptual and methodological difficulties making it impossible
to draw definite conclusions to date (Compas, 1987). The results in the current study are
consistent with the idea of a stress buffering effect, indicating that when the coping style
of Reference to Others was used more frequently, Non-Productive coping decreased in
some instances.
When exploring the differences between early and late adolescent peer counsellors
(Figures 8.8 and 8.9), mean score differences suggest that late adolescent peer counsellors
experienced a decline in the use of Problem-Solving strategies from three months
following the training whereas early adolescent peer counsellors show an increase in the
use of Problem-Solving strategies from immediately following the training. This suggests
that there may be a difference in the way early and late adolescent peer counsellors
respond to being a peer counsellor. Additionally, it is interesting to note that Frydenberg
and Lewis (2004) discovered differences between younger and older adolescents with

265
regard to their ability to cope with stress, with their data reflecting a noticeable increase in
older students professing least ability to cope.
School Climate Survey
Although the measurement of school climate traditionally has been that of using a
single scale, more recent assessment instruments have taken a multidimensional approach
(Sims, 2000). The survey developed and used in the current study responded to this shift
in instrument design by including items that identified both student perceptions of student
relationships and student perceptions of teachers relationships with students and other
staff. Consequently it is not surprising that the survey separated into two distinct factors.
Both of these factors include relationship dimensions of respect, trust, cohesiveness and
caring and system dimensions of morale and expectations. One factor embraces
perceptions of student relationships with students and the other, teacher relationships with
students and other staff. Peer counsellor responses to the School Climate Survey indicate
their perceptions of how these dimensions are reflected in relationships among their peers
and between their peers and teachers. More positive perceptions indicate a positive school
climate and negative perceptions indicate a negative school climate on each factor.
The importance of creating a positive climate for prosocial behaviour cannot be
overstated. It can be assumed that peer counsellor responses reflect their opinion of how
positive or negative the school climate is with regard to a number of issues. It seems
likely that one of the issues affecting the peer counsellors responses after training would
be the extent to which they felt supported by students and teachers in their role as peer
counsellors.
Examination of the results from the School Climate Survey suggests that it is not
useful to look at scores for all peer counsellors as a group. Data indicate that for late
adolescent peer counsellors, factor scores and the total school climate mean scores

266
increase from prior to the intervention to immediately following the intervention and then
progressively decrease until six months following the intervention. In contrast, early
adolescent peer counsellors mean scores decrease from prior to the intervention to
immediately following the intervention and then progressively increase until six months
following the intervention. Consequently when scores for early and late adolescent peer
counsellors are combined changes in scores tend to cancel each other out. The difference
between early and late adolescent peer counsellors with regard to their perceptions of
school climate suggests that the older adolescent peer counsellors may perceive the wider
school community as less supportive following training and that younger adolescent peer
counsellors may perceive the wider school environment as more supportive.
Peer counsellors in the current study may have had a level of confidence that the
prosocial activity that they were about to engage in would benefit the community and that
because of this their peers in the school community would share this belief. For late
adolescent peer counsellors it is likely that believing that their peers might share their
vision might well have positively influenced their perception of the school climate.
Exploration of mean scores show that late adolescent peer counsellors perceptions of
their peers relationships with each other improved from prior to the training to
immediately following the training. Their responses indicated that they had more positive
perceptions with regard to the extent to which they believed their peers supported and
helped each other.
It might be expected that late adolescent peer counsellors would experience a
sense of confidence immediately following the training due to the acquisition of
appropriate counselling skills. This expectation is consistent with the elevated mean
scores which indicate that their perceptions with regard to trust, caring and cohesiveness
among their student peers had become more positive at this time. It is also possible that

267
late adolescent peer counsellors would have a sense of relatedness with their peers
immediately following the training and might also believe that the school community
would be responsive to them in their role as peer counsellors.
The mean score trends in the current study indicate that having completed the
training, and after three months acting in the role of peer counsellor, late adolescent peer
counsellors perceptions of student relationships with each other had become more
negative than previously. It is possible that this may have been due to absence or
reduction of relatedness and support from their peers at this time. Further, decline in
negative perceptions of student relationships with students was evident at six months.
This decline in positive perceptions may be understood through the consideration of
previous research results on the importance of school climate on motivation. Several
researchers of school climate have noted the centrality of social factors in student
motivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Goldstein, 1999; Resnick et al., 1997). Furrer and
Skinner (2003) suggest that a sense of relatedness with specific social partners may
function as a motivational resource when students are faced with challenge or difficulties.
In times of stress students who experience trusted others as backing them up, respond
with more vigour, flexibility, and constructive actions. In the current study there may
have been a circular interaction between the late adolescent peer counsellors perceptions
of relationships of their peers and their motivation to perform in the role of peer
counsellor.
Exploration of mean scores suggests that late adolescent peer counsellors
perceived teachers relationships with students and other staff to be considerably less
positive following training than before training. It is interesting to note that after the
participants were taught the importance of effective listening and openness to others
ideas, they judged their teachers behaviours more harshly. Similar findings were

268
discovered by Smith, Daunic, Miller and Robinson (2002) when examining the impact of
conflict resolution and peer mediation programs in high schools. They found a significant
attitudinal change in peer mediators ratings of teacher communication following
mediation training and experience, with post-training ratings of teacher communication
being less positive.
Another possible reason for the decline in positive perceptions of teachers
relationships with students by late adolescent peer counsellors might have been a
discovery that teachers often respected only the most able students. This discovery could
easily have arisen from the peer counsellors contact with peers who had felt unsupported
by teachers and had sought help from peer counsellors to deal with this particular
problem. Consequently it is possible that late adolescent peer counsellors may have
recognised unfairness in the treatment of some of their peers by teachers. This is
consistent with the findings of Roeser, Midgley and Urdan (1996) in their study focusing
on school psychological environment and relationship and goal dimensions. They
discovered that when students perceived that only the most able students were recognised,
rewarded, and given support, that they also perceived the relationships between students
and teachers in the school to be less warm and responsive.
Outcomes in the current study suggest differences between early adolescent peer
counsellors and late adolescent peer counsellors perceptions of school climate. Mean
scores illustrate how early adolescent peer counsellors initially perceive the relationships
between their student peers negatively. However, because mean scores rise immediately
following the training, early adolescent peer counsellors appear to illustrate the process
described by Furrer and Skinner (2003) and respond to the challenge of becoming a peer
counsellor by drawing on their relationships with their peers as a way of motivating them
to deal with the challenges and difficulties of their new role. Social-cognitive views of

269
motivation emphasise how students derive meaning from their experiences in
achievement settings (Roeser, Midgley & Urdan, 1996). Roeser et al. (1996) explain that
the relationship between aspects of the learning environment and students sense of
relatedness and community in schools have much in common and may be useful in
understanding the reasons for early adolescent peer counsellors more positive views of
the school climate at this time. Deci and Ryan (1985) believe that early adolescents
actively attempt to make meaning of their middle school experiences in terms of their
needs for competence and relatedness. The perceptions of the school environment are
thought to shape student school-related beliefs, affect, and behaviour. The authors suggest
that positive relationships with teachers may serve a particularly important role in
facilitating adjustment during early adolescence when young people need non-parental
role models and mentors. This dependence or reliance on teachers as adults to assist early
adolescent peer counsellors with adjusting to their role as a peer counsellor may account
for their positive perceptions of teachers relationships with students. Further
confirmation for this reason for early adolescent peer counsellors school climate
responses can be found in results from studies investigating the relationship between
school climate and peer social intervention strategies. While there is an absence of
research examining the impact on student perceptions of school climate following training
in counselling skills, in a study by Nelson-Haynes (1996) examining the effectiveness of
a student conflict resolution program in high schools, the author found significant
differences between grade levels (senior school and middle school) on perceptions of
school climate. Nelson-Haynes suggests that possible reasons for this significance were
developmental factors, older students being more aware of chaos and violence in their
immediate environment, and younger adolescents having a sense of security and believing
that adults will fix the problem.

270
Conclusion
Study 2 aimed to investigate how an adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training
program affected the participants experience of being a peer counsellor and also how the
training program impacted on their perceptions of their emotional competence, selfconcept, use of coping strategies and their perceptions of the school climate. The
quantitative data provides a different platform from that provided by the qualitative data
from which to view the experience of adolescent peer counsellors following training, and
acting in the role of peer counsellor. The interpretation of data resulting from the
examination of mean score differences over time needs to be considered with caution. In
particular interpretation of data resulting from the examination of mean score differences
between early and late adolescent peer counsellors warrants careful consideration due to
the low numbers of subjects in each group. Further research using larger samples is
needed to confirm the trends suggested in the current study.
Trends identified in the current study indicated an improvement in both early and
late adolescent participants emotional competence and self-concept as a result of training
using an adolescent friendly peer counsellor training program and acting in the role of
peer counsellor. Additionally, trends identified that adolescent peer counsellors in the
current study demonstrated a preference for using productive coping strategies. On all the
quantitative measures used, the responses of early adolescent peer counsellors rise over
time, and responses of late adolescent peer counsellors fall. In particular, non-significant
differences between early and late adolescent peer counsellors were discovered with
regard to their perceptions of school climate, with early adolescent peer counsellors
perceiving the wider school community as more supportive. These findings deserve some
mention and it is suggested that these outcomes are related to developmental stage issues,
which may be responsible for these trends.

271
The current project also aimed to understand the impact of the intervention on non
peer counsellor students in the wider school community with regard to the way they feel
about themselves, their use of coping strategies and their perceptions of school climate.
The following chapter will report and discuss the results to research questions six, seven
and eight which explore these questions.

272

273
CHAPTER 9
Study 3 Impact of the Intervention on Non-Peer Counsellor Students
Research Questions
This chapter reports the results and discusses the findings with regard to the
following research questions:
6.

In a high school, does the introduction of a new adolescent-friendly peer


counsellor training program and exposure to trained peer counsellors influence
the way students who are not peer counsellors feel about themselves?

7.

In a high school, does the introduction of a new adolescent-friendly peer


counsellor training program and exposure to trained peer counsellors influence
the coping strategies used by students who are not peer counsellors?

8.

In a high school, does the introduction of a new adolescent-friendly peer


counsellor training program and exposure to trained peer counsellors influence
the perception of students who are not peer counsellors with regard to the current
school climate?
The above questions were answered using data collected from three measures;

the Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale (Piers, et al., 1984)), the Adolescent
Coping Scale (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993) and the School Climate Survey developed
by the researcher for the current project (for a full description of the measures used
see chapters 4 and 5). Data were collected prior to the intervention and three months
after completion of the training when peer counsellors had been acting in the role of
peer counsellor in the school community for three months.
Participants
Both male and female students from grades nine, 10, 11 and 12 relating in a
peer environment in a denominational high school participated in the study. Data for

274
the Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale was collected from 72 females and 58
males at Time 1, and 58 females and 55 males at Time 3. Data for the Adolescent
Coping Scale was collected from 59 females and 55 males at Time 1, and 65 females
and 59 males at Time 3. For both measures students from grades nine with a mean age
of 13.51 years were categorised as early adolescents and students from grades 10 and
11 with a mean age of 15.03 years were categorised as late adolescents.
When collecting data for the School Climate Survey, grade 12 students were
included with late adolescents. Details with regard to inclusion of grade 12 students
will be discussed later, under the heading Procedure and Measures. Data for the
School Climate Survey was collected from 123 females and 115 males at Time 1, and
97 females and 98 males at Time 3. For the School Climate Survey, the mean age for
late adolescent students from grades 10, 11 and 12 was 16.12 years. Table 9.1 outlines
the total number and gender of students completing each measure at each time.
Table 9.1
Number and gender of subjects in each group.
Subjects

Piers-Harris Childrens
Self-concept Scale

Adolescent Coping Scale

School Climate Survey

T1

T3

T1

T3

T1

T3

Total Nonpeer
counsellors

N=130

N=113

N=114

N=124

N=238

N=195

Males

N=58

N=55

N=55

N=59

N=115

N=98

Females

N= 72

N=58

N=59

N=65

N=123

N=97

275
Description of the Intervention
The intervention for this study was the introduction of a new adolescentfriendly peer counsellor training program and exposure to the trained peer counsellors
(for a full description see chapter 7). The training program was conducted over three
months to train 20 self-selected high school students as peer counsellors. Following
the completion of training, for a further period of three months, the peer counsellors
were available in the high school environment to help their peers who had problems
or difficulties.
Procedure and measures
The quantitative measures of the Piers-Harris Childrens Self-Concept Scale
(Piers, et al., 1984), The Adolescent Coping Scale (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993) and
the School Climate Survey developed by the researcher, were used to provide
information about whether the intervention influenced the perception of students who
were not peer counsellors with regard to their self-concept, their perception of their
coping styles and their perception of the school climate over time.
Grade nine, 10, and 11 students who were not peer counsellors, completed the
three standardised measures prior to the intervention (T1) and again three months
after completion of peer counsellor training (T3), a total of six months between T1
and T3. Due to restrictions imposed by the school because of timetabling constraints
and academic demands, grade 12 students were only able to complete one survey. A
large sample size was required to enable a factor analysis to be conducted on the
School Climate Survey which was developed for this project. Tabachnick and Fiddell
(2001) state that a minimum of five subjects per variable is required for factor
analysis and that a sample of 100 subjects is acceptable but that sample sizes of 200
plus are preferable. Therefore, the School Climate Survey, and not the other measures,

276
was selected as the survey to be completed by grade 12 students at T1 and again at
T3. The inclusion of grade 12 students in the data for the School Climate Survey
explains the larger sample sizes for late adolescents at T1 and T3 on that measure,
compared with the late adolescent sample sizes on the other two measures.
Grades nine, 10 and 11 were each divided into three relatively equal groups
with each group completing a different measure (either the Piers-Harris Childrens
Self-concept Scale, The Adolescent Coping Scale, or the School Climate Survey) at
T1, with the same groups completing the same measure at T3. Subject numbers from
T1 to T3 varied due to absenteeism and school curriculum demands. The measures
were administered by the school counsellor who had been previously trained by the
researcher to administer the measures. Administration of the measures was uniform
across all grades. Students were assured of the confidentiality of their responses and
the voluntary nature of their participation.
Further analysis of the data was guided by findings from study two. In study
two, differences were found between the way early and late adolescent peer
counsellors responded on the measures used. Because of this discovery the researcher
decided to include a comparison of the results between early and late adolescent nonpeer counsellors in the current study. Table 9.2 shows the number of subjects tested at
T1 and T3 on each measure.

277

Table 9.2. Number of subjects in each group.


Subjects

Piers-Harris Childrens
Self-concept Scale

Adolescent Coping Scale

School Climate Survey

T1

T3

T1

T3

T1

T3

Total Nonpeer
counsellors

N=130

N=113

N=114

N=124

N=238

N=195

Early
adolescent
Non-peer
counsellors

N=42

N=34

N=35

N=39

N=37

N=27

Late
adolescent
Non-peer
counsellors

N= 88

N=79

N=79

N=85

N=201

N=168

Quantitative Data Results


The results are described under research question headings and under the
subheadings of each measure; the Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale, the
Adolescent Coping Scale, and the School Climate Survey.
Research question 6
Research question six aimed to discover whether a new adolescent-friendly peer
counsellor training program introduced into a high school and exposure to trained
peer counsellors, influenced the way students who were not peer counsellors felt
about themselves.
Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale.
A repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed on the
data from the Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale to determine whether there
were significant differences in subscale scores for non-peer counsellors over time.

278
Table 9.3 presents the mean scores for non-peer counsellors for the subscales of the
Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale.
Table 9.3.
Differences over time for total sample of non-peer counsellors for Piers-Harris
Subscales

Variable
Behaviour

Time 1
(n = 130)
M
12.83

SD
3.42

Time 3
(n = 113)
M
12.93

SD
3.37

Status

11.78

3.39

11.54

3.77

Appearance

7.93

3.30

7.80

3.24

Anxiety

10.18

3.29

10.52

3.11

Popularity

8.45

2.68

8.63

2.58

Happiness

8.25

1.98

7.99

2.18

Overall, no significant differences in self-concept were found on the PiersHarris subscales for non-peer counsellors from Time 1 to Time 3.
A one-way analysis of variance was performed on the data from the PiersHarris Childrens Self-concept Scale to determine whether there were significant
differences in self-concept between early and late adolescent non-peer counsellors.
Table 9.4 presents mean scores for the Piers-Harris subscales for early and late
adolescent non-peer counsellors.

279
Table 9.4.
Piers-Harris subscales for early and late adolescent non-peer counsellors
Variable

Time

Early Adolescent
n
M

SD

Late Adolescent
n
M

Behaviour

1
3

42
34

13.09
12.85

3.39
3.28

88
79

12.83
13.00

3.42
3.42

1
3

42
34

12.45
11.44

3.42
3.72

88
79

11.45
11.62

3.35
3.81

1
3

42
34

7.86
7.94

3.43
2.98

88
78

7.97
7.74

3.25
3.35

1
3

42
34

10.81
10.29

2.93
3.35

88
79

9.88
10.63

3.42
3.00

1
3

42
34

8.38
7.88*

3.01
3.09

88
78

8.49
8.95*

2.53
2.27

1
3

42
34

8.21
8.59

2.20
1.41

88
79

8.27
7.72

1.87
2.39

SD

Status

Appearance

Anxiety

Popularity

Happiness

Note: *p< .05

Results indicate the only significant difference was that late adolescent nonpeer counsellors rated their self-concept on the subscale of Popularity significantly
higher than that of early adolescent non-peer counsellors at Time 3, (F (1,110) = 4.16,
p < .05).
Research question 7
Research question seven aimed to ascertain whether the introduction of a new
adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program and exposure to trained peer
counsellors influenced the coping strategies used by students who were not peer
counsellors using the Adolescent Coping Scale.
The Adolescent Coping Scale
As described in chapter four, the Adolescent Coping Scale can be scored on
three factors which have been called Solving the Problem, Reference to Others and
Non-Productive Coping. Scoring on these factors is adjusted so that the three factors
can be directly compared with each other in relation to the frequency of use of each

280
style of coping. A repeated measures analysis of variance was performed to discover
whether the coping styles used by non-peer counsellors changed over time. Table 9.5
presents the coping style mean scores for non-peer counsellors over time.
Table 9.5
Differences over time for total sample of non-peer counsellors for Adolescent Coping
Styles

Variable

Time 1
(n = 114)
M

SD

Time3
(n = 124)
M

SD

Problem Solving

66.36

8.93

62.12

11.06

Non-productive coping

49.62

10.58

48.57

11.13

Reference to Others

33.67

9.63

32.89

10.05

Overall no significant differences were found in the degree to which each


coping style was used by non-peer counsellors over time.
A one-way analysis of variance was performed on the data from the
Adolescent Coping Scale to determine whether there were significant differences in
the degree of use of the coping styles between early and late adolescent non-peer
counsellors. Table 9.6 presents the mean scores for the coping styles of the early and
late adolescent non-peer counsellors.
Table 9.6.
Adolescent Coping Scale subscales for non-peer counsellors
Early Adolescent
n
M

SD

Late Adolescent
n
M

Variable

Time

SD

Problem Solving

1
3

35
39

68.78
63.33

7.15
12.41

79
85

65.29
61.56

9.46
10.41

1
3

35
39

49.49
48.65

11.41
10.53

79
85

49.68
48.54

10.28
11.46

1
3

35
39

36.90
34.61

9.61
11.92

79
85

32.24
32.10

9.35
10.05

Avoidance

Reference to Others

281
Overall no significant differences were found in the degree to which each
coping style was used between early and late adolescent non-peer counsellors.
Research Question 8
Research question eight aimed to discover whether the introduction of a new
adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program and exposure to trained peer
counsellors influenced the perceptions of school climate of students who were not
peer counsellors over time using the School Climate Survey.
The School Climate Survey
The mean scores for Factor 1 (Students perceptions of Student relationships),
Factor 2, (Students perceptions of Teachers relationships with students and other
staff), and the School Climate total were used to measure changes in subjects
perceptions over time (see chapter five for factor details). A repeated measures
analysis of variance was performed to discover whether the perceptions of school
climate of non-peer counsellors changed over time. Table 9.7 presents mean scores
for non-peer counsellors with regard to their perceptions of school climate over time.
Table 9.7.
Differences over time for non-peer counsellors for school climate total and subscales
Time 1
(n = 238)
M

SD

Time3
(n = 194)
M

SD

Student
relationships
with Students

58.83

9.74

59.37

9.75

Teachers
relationships
with Student
/other teachers

50.09

9.09

49.58

9.23

School Climate
Total

108.91

16.04

108.95

16.90

Variable

282
No significant differences over time for non-peer counsellors were found on
the factors of Students perceptions of Student relationships (F (1, 430) = .333, p >
.05), Student perceptions of Teachers Relationships with Students and other Staff, (F
(1, 430) = .329, p > .05) and School Climate Total, (F (1, 430) = .001, p > .05).
A one-way analysis of variance was performed on the data from the School
Climate Survey to determine whether there were significant differences in perceptions
of school climate between early and late adolescent non-peer counsellors over time.
Table 9.8 presents the mean scores for the factors and school climate total for early to
late adolescent non-peer counsellors over time.
Table 9.8
School climate mean scores for early and late adolescent non-peer counsellors
Student perceptions
of student
relationships

Time

Early Adolescent
n
M

SD

Late Adolescent
n
M

SD

1
3

37
27

61.80*
59.78

11.48
9.63

201
168

58.28*
59.49

9.31
9.89

1
3

37
27

51.54
48.30

10.19
10.05

201
168

49.82
49.91

8.88
9.21

1
3

37
27

113.34
108.07

20.32
18.10

201
168

108.10
109.35

15.04
17.05

Student perceptions
of Teachers
Relationships with
Students and other
Staff

School Climate Total

Note: p <.05

Results indicate that perceptions of early adolescent non-peer counsellors were


significantly more positive than those of late adolescent non-peer counsellors with
regard to Student Relationships with Students prior to the intervention at Time 1 (F
(1,236) =4.13, p< .05). No other significant differences were found.
Discussion
A number of authors suggest that when delivering counselling services in
schools it is helpful to take a systemic perspective (Davis, 2001; Hinkle & Wells,

283
2001; Keys & Lockhart, 1999; Nicoll, 1992; Sink & Yillik-Downer, 2001). In
general, systems theory states that individuals impact on and are impacted by the
systems of which they are a part (Minuchin, 1974). In the current study systems
theory is used to explore how the subsystems made up of individual peer counsellors
and peer counsellors as a group impact on the wider system of the high school
environment. Introducing a peer counsellor training program into a high school
intentionally results in changes in the behaviours of students trained as peer
counsellors. Systems theory suggests that these changes will inevitably impact on the
wider system, that is on the whole school environment including students who are not
peer counsellors. In the current study, the impact of the peer counsellor program on
students in the wider high school environment was investigated by measuring changes
in students perceptions of self-concept, school climate and changes in their use of
coping strategies.
Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale
Results in the current study indicate no differences in scores for non-peer
counsellor students on the subscales of the Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale
three months after completion of training of peer counsellors. An explanation for the
absence of change may relate to Piers (1984) suggestion that self-concept is
relatively stable over time while acknowledging that it is affected by the child's
reference group. If this is true it might be expected that any change in self-concept in
the wider system would only occur after an extended period of time and not
necessarily within three months of introducing an intervention.
Examination of early and late adolescent student scores indicate that late
adolescent non-peer counsellors rated their self-concept on the subscale of Popularity
significantly higher than that of early adolescent non-peer counsellors three months

284
after peer counsellor training. The subscale of Popularity reflects subjects feelings
about themselves in peer relationships. It is known that adolescents increasingly
distance themselves from parents and spend more time by themselves and with
friends, as they get older (Steinberg & Morris, 2001). It is possible that because older
adolescents spend more time with their peers that they have more opportunity to
develop positive relationships with their peers resulting in them believing that they
have increased levels of popularity. This may not be the case for younger adolescents
who are just beginning to strengthen and use peer relationships as a reference group
(Pletsch et al., 1991). It is interesting to note that the data reflected in Study 3 is
different to those results of study 2, which examined the differences between early
and late adolescent peer counsellors and where late adolescent peer counsellors report
more negative evaluations of their popularity. However the differences can be
explained in that the adolescent peer counsellor group related their experience of
being in the role of peer counsellor as being stressful and unrewarding and perceived
themselves to be different from their peers at this time.
Adolescent Coping Scale
It was anticipated that a social support resource such as a peer counsellor
program would influence the coping strategies used by students in the wider school
environment. It was expected that results indicating a more frequent use of the coping
style of Reference to Others might indicate that the peer counsellor program had
encouraged students in the wider community to use the social support resource
provided by peer counsellors. However, there were no significant changes in the
coping styles of students in the wider school community following the intervention in
study three.

285
Seeking help from peers is recognised as an important coping strategy used by
adolescents (Boldero & Fallon, 1995; Frydenberg & Lewis, 1998; Rickwood, 1992;
Whitaker et al., 1990). However Boldero and Fallon (1995) point out that there are
several factors influencing help seeking behaviour in adolescents and Wilson and
Deane (2001) have examined and identified help seeking barriers in adolescents. The
help seeking behaviours of adolescents may go part way in explaining the results,
which show that the degree of use of the coping style Reference to Others in
particular did not change over time for non-peer counsellors in the wider high school
community. Help seeking behaviours include communication about a problem or
troublesome event and involves self-disclosure. Self-disclosure involves revealing
information about oneself to another person known as the target person (Jourard &
Lasakow, 1958). The choice of a target person for self-disclosure has been associated
with age and gender (Seiffge-Krenke, 1993), and studies indicate that one tends to
disclose more to opposite sex friends than to any other target person as one grows
older (Jourard, 1961; Rickwood & Braithwaite, 1994).

In the current study the

availability of more female than male peer counsellors may have limited the
opportunity for some students in the wider school community to find an appropriate
target person when seeking help. Additionally, the occurrence of self-disclosure is
often dependent on the reciprocating of self-disclosure by the target person (Jourard &
Jaffe, 1970; OKelley & Schuldt, 1981; Weigel, Weigel, & Chadwick, 1969; Wilson
& Deane, 2001). The training program in the current study emphasised the importance
of reciprocal self-disclosure when helping peers. However students in the wider
school community, accustomed to sharing personal problems with friends, may have
had a perception of peer counsellors as being somehow different from their friends

286
with regard to mutual sharing and may have been less inclined to seek them out for
help as a result.
Another factor affecting help seeking is that of stigma. Studies on helpseeking behaviour have shown that many people prefer to go without help rather than
turn to others for help (Furnham & Wardely, 1990; Kuhl et al., 1997). It has been
suggested that the major obstacle to approaching others for help is the stigma
associated with help seeking which threatens ones self-esteem and that the emotion
of shame in the process of help seeking highlights the possibility that this emotion
rather than rational cognitive processes used to evaluate the benefits of seeking help
might shape help seeking behaviour (Lee, 2002; Newman, Murray, & Lussier, 2001).
This might be particularly true for adolescents. A major disruptive emotion of
adolescence is shame (Shave & Shave, 1989). Adolescents frequently experience
feelings of ridicule, humiliation and embarrassment and it is understandable that
seeking help might publicly identify them as not being able to cope exposing them to
being stereotyped, and discriminated against. Stereotypes are a means of categorising
information about social groups and people can quickly generate impressions and
expectations of individuals who belong to a stereotyped group (Hamilton & Sherman,
1994). With regard to adolescents in the current study, it is likely that approaching a
peer counsellor would result in being stereotyped and would invite negative emotional
reactions from others leading to discrimination.
Adolescents may be especially sensitive to issues of privacy, confidentiality,
trust and a close relationship with the help giver (Kuhl, Horlick & Morrisey, 1997;
Dubow et al., 1990; Wilson & Deane, 2001). In the current study, it may be that
students in the wider high school environment may have been uncertain about the
extent to which confidentiality and privacy would be preserved and therefore reluctant

287
to approach peer counsellors at T3. Additionally, adolescents are concerned with
group membership as emerging issues with regard to identity and peer group
membership are central to this stage of development (Erickson, 1968) and according
to social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1979) group memberships contribute to
both self-definition and self-esteem. It is possible in the current study that the stigma
associated with help seeking challenged the adolescents personal and social identity
and the risks associated with approaching peer counsellors for help outweighed the
benefits of seeking social support for problems.
In a study by Yagil and Israelashvili (2003), it was found that it is likely that a
professional helper who demonstrates positive characteristics will generate positive
emotions in a potential help seeker and increase that persons readiness to seek help.
Study two in the current project suggests that, at times, peer counsellors were
pessimistic about how their role was perceived by their peers and how positively they
were being received. In the current project, because peer counsellors were the
pioneers of a peer counsellor program, it is likely that at times they may not have
experienced positive emotions with regard to their role and status within the wider
school community. These negative emotional responses of peer counsellor about their
role may have contributed to their peers feeling uncertain about seeking help from
peer counsellors.
Finally, Seiffge-Krenke (1993) found that differences in the use of coping
strategies depended on the type of problem and Esters (2001) emphasised the
importance of similarity between the helper and receiver of help in at risk high school
students preferences for counsellor characteristics. Because in the current study peer
counsellors self-selected to be trained and were not nominated by their peers, issues

288
with regard to peer counsellor similarity with and differences from their peers may
have been an obstacle for students in the wider school community when seeking help.
The School Climate Survey
Results indicate that adolescents in the wider school environment did not
change with regard to their perceptions of school climate three months after the
completion of peer counsellor training. Early adolescent non-peer counsellors had
significantly more positive perceptions of school climate on Factor 1 with regard to
student relationships than late adolescent non-peer counsellors prior to the
intervention. Items on Factor 1 of the School Climate Survey, perceptions of Student
Relationships with Students, relate to prosocial behaviour among students. It is
possible that because of a strong investment in social identity development, early
adolescents have more confidence that student relationships are respectful, trusting,
caring and cohesive than older adolescents. It is known that although the influence of
peers is strong, young adolescents confirm the importance of family (Benson et al.,
1987; Offer et al., 1988) and are often likely to refer to their family and other adults as
well as their peers when resolving problematic issues. The responses of early
adolescents in the current study may reflect the fact that early adolescents have less
knowledge with regard to student relationship difficulties than older adolescents
because they are still strongly connected to the family, family values and opinions.
As mentioned previously, late adolescents spend increasingly more time by
themselves and with friends (Baltes & Silverberg, 2000; Steinberg & Morris, 2001)
and as adolescents get older they appear to shift in their help seeking away from
parents and towards boyfriends and girlfriends (Ciarrochi et al., 2003). It is possible
that late adolescents are more in touch with problems with regard to peer relationships

289
and issues experienced by their peers and as a result experience student relationships
more negatively than younger adolescents.
Interestingly following the completion of the peer counsellor training program
and after the peer counsellors had been acting in their role as peer counsellors for
three months, early and late adolescent non-peer counsellors show no significant
differences with regard to their perceptions of student relationships. Results indicate
(Table 9.7) that mean scores for late adolescent non-peer counsellors are higher at
three months after the intervention compared with prior to the intervention and that
mean scores for early adolescent non-peer counsellors are lower. It is possible that as
a result of the peer counsellor program late adolescent non-peer counsellors
experience more respectful rapport between students, have an increased confidence in
the way problems will be solved among students, and observe more obvious displays
of kindness and concern for others.
Summary
Systems theory predicts that when one member or some members of a system
change there is a ripple effect so that other members of the system change. It was
anticipated that the introduction of the peer counsellor program would produce a
ripple effect and that results of the impact of the intervention would be reflected in
positive changes with regard to self-concept, coping and perceptions of the school
climate of students in the wider system. These expectations of change may have been
unrealistic in the current study when compared with outcomes from other studies
examining the impact of peer counsellor programs in high schools.
Firstly, the ripple effect may initially, during the three months immediately
following training, have impacted only on recipients of help or on students closely
associated with peer counsellors. It is possible that over a longer time and with an

290
increase in the number of trained peer counsellors that the ripple effect would be more
far-reaching. In the current study the trained peer counsellors were pioneers of a
program which was to serve as an adjunct to other counselling services provided in a
high school. In the current study peer counsellors had been acting in their role for
only three months at the time of evaluation and compared with the number of students
in the school they were a relatively small group. Finally the non-peer counsellor
students in the current study were part of a denominational school where it is likely
that high levels of pastoral care already existed. Students may have had more frequent
exposure to and encouragement with accessing alternative types of social support.
Research efforts to evaluate satisfaction with high school peer counselling
programs have been relatively unsystematic and sparse (Morey & Miller, 1993). In
particular there has been no research evaluating the impact of adolescent peer
counsellor programs on adolescent coping strategies.
Research results of studies examining peer counsellor interventions are
confusing because some programs which are described in the literature as adolescent
peer counselling programs do not involve what is typically known as counselling.
Instead these programs rely on teaching skills which deal with mediation, conflict
resolution, befriending, psychoeducational strategies or tutoring (Cowie, 1999;
Demetriades, 1996; Frisz, 1999; Morrison, 1987; Ortega & del Rey, 1999; Osterman,
et al., 1997; Shiner, 1999; Topping & Ehly, 1998). In those studies that do train
adolescents in facilitative counselling microskills the impact on the wider school
environment has not been evaluated by collecting data from all students in the wider
school environment but instead has relied on data either from the peer counsellors
themselves or the direct recipients of help. For example, when studying the effects of
a peer counsellor program on school climate, Swen (2000) relied on data from peer

291
counsellors only. Similarly Abu-Rasain and Williams (1999) relied on data from
recipients of help in focus groups and self-reports from peer counsellors. Also Morey
and Miller (1993) studied student satisfaction with peer counselling in high schools
with results obtained from recipients of help. It is clearly not satisfactory to attempt to
measure the impact of an adolescent peer counselling program on the wider school
environment by relying only on data from either the helpers or the recipients of help.
The current study was unable to identify any impact on the wider school
environment as a result of the introduction of a peer counsellor program. However,
this may be because the data was collected only three months following the
completion of training. The other studies mentioned previously which attempted to
evaluate the impact of adolescent peer counsellor programs on the wider system by
collecting data from either peer counsellors or recipients of help collected data over
periods ranging from eight to 12 months (Abu-Rasain & Williams, 1999; Morey &
Miller, 1993; Swen, 2000). As stated previously, evaluation of the impact of the
adolescent peer counsellor program in the current study may have been premature. If
data had been collected at a later stage it may have been possible to identify changes
in the wider system if these had, in fact, occurred.

292

293
CHAPTER 10
Discussion, Limitations, and Contributions of the Current Project
The current project looked at adolescent peer counselling as a social support
strategy to assist adolescents to cope with stress. The project explored the prosocial
behaviour of providing emotional and psychological support by focusing on the
helping conversations of young people. An intervention research process was used to
ascertain what young people do and say when helping each other, and to then, on the
basis of data, develop an intervention in which the specific prosocial behaviour of
providing conversational social support could be enhanced and examined. The impact
of the intervention on the adolescent participants was examined.
The present study provides confirmation of a number of findings that other
studies

have

identified

regarding

the

idiosyncratic

nature

of

adolescent

communication, and the conversational and relational behaviours of young people


(Chan, 2001; Noller, Feeney, & Peterson, 2001; Papini & Farmer, 1990; Rafaelli &
Duckett, 1989; Readdick & Mullis, 1997; Rotenberg, 1995; Turkstra, 2001; Worcel et
al., 1999; Young et al., 1999). It extends this research by identifying the specific
conversational characteristics that young people use in helping conversations.
The project confirmed the researchers expectation that some counselling
microskills currently used in training adolescent peer counsellors are not easy to use
by adolescents and are considered by them to be unhelpful. It also identified that some
typical adolescent conversational helping behaviours which have been proscribed for
use in other adolescent peer counsellor training programs are, in fact, useful in
adolescent peer counselling. The project conclusively demonstrated that the
adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program developed overcame the
difficulties of skill implementation identified in the adolescent peer counselling

294
literature (Carr, 1984). It also identified for the first time the process used by
adolescent peer counsellors to deal with issues related to role attribution and status
difference. Problems of role attribution and status difference have been highlighted in
previous adolescent peer counsellor training literature as being problematic (de
Rosenroll, 1988). The current study contributes new information to the peer
counselling literature through the discovery of important differences between early
adolescent and late adolescent peer counsellors with regard to acquiring and
mastering counselling skills, and their response to role attribution and status
difference issues among their peers. Additionally the project examined the influence
of an adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program on non-peer counsellor
students in the wider adolescent community of the high school. In particular, the
project was interested in whether exposure to trained peer counsellors influenced
students who were not peer counsellors with regard to perceptions of their selfconcept, their degree of use of specific coping strategies and on their perceptions of
the school climate.
As a result of the substantive findings the current project makes a significant
contribution to social support and prosocial theory and adolescent peer counselling
literature. It extends the range of prosocial behaviours addressed in published research
by specifically examining the conversational helping behaviour of adolescents from a
relational perspective. The current study provides new information that contributes to
knowledge of social support in the form of conversational behaviour among
adolescents identifying the interactive, collaborative, reciprocal and idiosyncratic
nature of helping conversations in adolescents. It also responds to suggestions in peer
counsellor training literature (Tindall, 1989) that trainers explore a variety of ways to
approach a single training model that can augment and supplement the training

295
process to meet specific group needs by investigating which counselling skills and
behaviours adolescent peer counsellor trainees preferred, were easy to use by them,
and were familiar to them, and then incorporating these skills and behaviours into a
typical helping conversation.
This chapter provides a discussion of the findings, methodology and
contributions of the current study as well as identifying the limitations, possibilities
and implications for future research in the area of adolescent peer counselling.
Contribution Of Qualitative Findings
Adolescent Conversational Helping Behaviour
The current study confirmed that the goals of counselling and the counselling
conversation identified by young people are consistent with those described in the
counselling literature by many authors (Egan, 1994; Geldard & Geldard, 2001;
Nelson-Jones, 1997; Sanders, 1996; Wolfe & Dryden, 1996). Similarly, the findings
show that young people share comparable beliefs about the helping relationship as
described by authors such as Egan (1994) and Rogers (1965) and the conditions
required for personal disclosure described in the literature (Rosenfeld & Kendrick,
1984). In particular, the findings in the current study validate the researchers
expectation that adolescents have distinct ways in which they use conversational
characteristics to achieve the goals of a helping conversation and an appropriate
helping relationship. The findings indicate that young people express empathy by
being strongly evaluative and persuasive, that they offer endorsements, praise,
recommend, sympathise, and reassure, to indicate the helpers solidarity with the
situation being discussed, and that they share their personal point of view by giving
advice and reassurance and by making evaluative responses.

296
The findings of the current study contradict some currently held beliefs about
what is appropriate in adolescent counselling conversations. Some of the typical
conversational characteristics of helping behaviour mentioned above, and identified in
the current study, are described as unacceptable in the counselling literature. In
particular, in the peer counsellor training literature some conversational characteristics
have been categorised as roadblocks to communication, have been described as
unhelpful, and have therefore been actively discouraged (Carr & Saunders, 1980; de
Rosenroll, 1988; Morey & Miller, 1993; Myrick & Sorensen, 1988; Painter, 1989;
Tindall, 1989; Turner, 1999). However, the results of this research project strongly
suggest that these so-called roadblocks to communication are particularly useful in
adolescent helping conversations. The findings from the present study indicate that
rather than being unhelpful, the typical conversational skills used in adolescent
helping conversations are, in fact, useful responses that are not negative in effect and
do not retard helpful interpersonal relationships among adolescent peers in helping
conversations and are salient to young people. The present study identified those
counselling microskills used in current adolescent peer counsellor training programs
which young people find difficult to use or unhelpful in helping conversations with
their peers. Of particular importance is the finding that the microcounselling skills of
reflection were perceived by young people as being both difficult to use and
unhelpful. This finding has significant implications for future adolescent peer
counsellor training programs as currently such programs place heavy reliance on the
use of reflective skills (Carr & Saunders, 1980; de Rosenroll, 1988; Morey & Miller,
1993; Myrick & Sorensen, 1988; Painter, 1989; Tindall, 1989; Turner, 1999).
The present study confirms the ease of use and usefulness of some counselling
processes which are included in current peer counsellor training programs with

297
adolescents including support for the use of a problem-solving process that does not
compromise the conversational nature of helping or interfere with the reciprocity of
the relationship (Morey & Miller, 1993). Understanding the difference between open
and closed questions, their usefulness with regard to eliciting different information
and the value of using them at specific times in the conversation was also appreciated.
Additional new findings that had not been anticipated by the researcher were that
adolescents place a strong emphasis on instilling hope and optimism in the person
being helped. This aspect of counselling receives little attention in both the adult
counselling and adolescent peer counselling literature. Additionally, contrary to
popular belief about successful communication and useful counselling skills the study
revealed that young people find that advice giving and receiving advice is useful
subject to conditions which they implicitly understand. Findings from the present
study confirm that ambiguous statements and the announcement of a problem are
signals that advice is being sought. While these signals are indirect, they are
recognised as requests for advice or input from the helper by both the helper and
person being helped. Young people respect the readiness of the person being helped
by recognising that while a particular course of action worked for them it may not be
right for someone else. Additionally young people recognise that the choice and
responsibility for accepting suggestions and advice is up to the person requesting
help. Findings in the present study show that rather than being ambivalent about
giving advice as a way of helping others to solve their problems, young people are
very clear about the circumstances under which advice should be given and that
advice giving occurs within a process of collaborative problem solving.

298
Adolescent Peer Counsellors Experience with regard to their Training and Role as
Peer Counsellors
Major contributions of the current study were findings related to the experience of
participants as adolescent peer counsellors. Findings with regard to skill
implementation, role attribution and status differences, identified in previous
adolescent peer counsellor training research as being problematic (Carr & Saunders,
1980; de Rosenroll, 1988), were of particular interest.
The content and the model of training used in the current study enabled the
participants to use counselling skills with a reasonable level of comfort. Most
importantly it was found that the participants did not feel de-skilled with regard to
their own typical helping behaviours during the training process. Thus the findings
conclusively demonstrated that the adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training
program overcame the difficulties of skill implementation identified in previous
adolescent peer counsellor training literature (Carr, 1984).
The current project has clearly demonstrated that there are advantages in using an
adolescent-friendly peer counsellor training program which enhances typical
adolescent conversational helping behaviours within the counselling process.
However,

problem

was

discovered

when

some

participants

expressed

disappointment after the training precisely because it did primarily focus on


enhancing typical adolescent helping behaviours. These participants believed that they
had not being taught anything new or different even though training was aimed at
enhancing their natural skills and they had been taught to use a sequential counselling
process. This finding highlights a limitation of using the current training model. A
recommendation therefore, is that trainers using this model, need to clearly point out
to participants that they will learn how to enhance their current helping skills and

299
incorporate them into a counselling process rather than assuming that participants will
notice the training format and understand that training will not involve learning
entirely new counselling skills exclusively.
Issues related to role attribution and status differences appeared to be difficult for
peer counsellors in the current study despite school wide advertising of the project
and circulating information with regard to its purpose and intent. This confirms
suggestions in the adolescent peer counselling literature that these factors are
problematic (de Rosenroll, 1988). Participants in the current study held the
expectation that, because of their training as peer counsellors, their peers would
automatically respect their counselling abilities and approach them for help.
It was found that adolescent peer counsellors not only require counsellor training
but also need to adopt social norms and rules with regard to the way they should
conduct themselves if they are to be valued as helpers by their peer group. This may
include behaving in ways that indicate assurance of privacy, impartiality and
confidentiality, as well as behaviours that indicate confidence, and genuine interest
and proactive concern. These findings may highlight a limitation of the training model
used in the current study, where training sessions were allocated to learning skills and
behaviours to initiate a helping conversation. However, it is recommended that in
future training programs the link between the initial stage of beginning a helping
conversation and the behavioural role of the peer counsellor needs to be included. In
particular, behaviours with regard to appropriately and proactively approaching others
with the intention of helping need to be defined. It appears that an important inclusion
for success of delivering peer counsellor services is to allocate specific time during
training where peer counsellors can brainstorm ways in which they can be flexible
and creative with regard to targeting students in need and attracting potential users of

300
their service. A limitation of the current study was that the peer counsellor training
program was the first to be conducted in the school. Consequently the trained peer
counsellors did not have previously trained peer counsellors as role models. Because
transition in roles involves the observation of role models (Ibarra, 1999), the absence
of opportunities for participants to observe successful role models may have been a
limitation when attempting to overcome role attribution issues.
Findings of the current project indicate that the role of adolescent peer counsellor
is closely associated with the adolescent developmental process of individual and
social identity formation. Participants had volunteered to become peer counsellors and
were highly motivated to protect their identity because the peer counsellor role made
an important contribution to their self-concept. Participants exhibited a high
investment in achieving goals related to their individual and social identity and
appeared to be committed and determined to persevere in, and adjust to, the role
transition process.
The current study identified that status issues were by far the most important
issues for adolescent peer counsellors. This is not surprising as adolescents generally
are concerned with peer group membership which is a central feature for this stage of
development (Erickson, 1968). Because not all students in the school participated in
the training, participants in the study became members of a group that was different
from their peers. Group membership as a peer counsellor raised issues of difference
for the participants because acquiring counselling training created a status difference
based on their relative social and skilled standing when compared with their peers.
A major discovery of the current project was that the difficulties experienced by
participants with regard to role and status issues were adequately resolved by the
participants themselves and that intervention by adults was unnecessary. Adolescent

301
peer counsellors resolved issues with regard to role and status difference through
responses suggesting promotional and personal adaptation strategies. Personal identity
and role changes evolved interactively so that a new role was achieved that was more
than simply a compromise of role demands and self-demands. Over time peer
counsellors adapted aspects of their identity to accommodate role demands and
modified role definitions to preserve and enact valued aspects of their identity.
Adjustments in role included participants proactively executing their role, and
responding to feedback with regard to endorsement of the role by others, and factors
that contributed to enhancing or constraining them from assuming their role.
Participants responses suggested that adaptation involved evaluating their success as
peer counsellors against internal and external standards. The current study identified
this process of resolution and confirmed what has been found in other studies
(McIntosh, 2003) that role and status difficulties can be resolved through a threestaged process over time. This resolution process is discussed fully in chapter eight.
Findings in the present study show that participants focused on issues with regard
to being different from their peer group rather than on issues related to belonging to a
distinct and alternative group (that of peer counsellors). This tendency in participants
responses may reflect a limitation of the current study. The importance of
understanding the role that trainees will occupy in the wider community is essential to
maximise smooth status passage (McIntosh, 2003). In the current study three training
sessions were devoted to ethical considerations when using counselling skills, and to
peer counsellor expectations and limitations with regard to the way peer counsellor
services would be delivered. However, the training did not include reference to the
reality that training as a peer counsellor would mean that they would in the future
belong to a new group which would be different from their peer groups. It might be

302
useful in future programs to include information highlighting the fact that after
training as a peer counsellor, individuals would belong to a peer counsellor group
which would have its own distinctive identity and role regardless of whether peer
counsellor services were delivered formally or informally. Having said this, another
way to minimise the negative effects of status difference is for all students to
participate in a peer counsellor training program. It may be that when all students
share the same social and skilled standing with regard to having acquired counselling
skills to help their peers status differences will be eliminated.
Developmental Age Differences
An important and new contribution of the current study is the identification of
differences between early and late adolescent peer counsellors with regard to their
experience of peer counselling, In particular, with regard to acquiring and mastering
counselling skills, role attribution issues and issues regarding status differences. It is
well recognised in the literature researching prosocial behaviour among adolescents
that there are gender differences (Cowie, Naylor, Talamelli, Chauhan & Smith, 2002;
Switzer, Simmons, Dew, Regalski, & Wang, 1995). However, little attention has been
given to whether there are differences between early and late adolescents. In the
current project it was found that early adolescent peer counsellors were slower to
move through the developmental process of mastering and then using skills in
informal counselling conversations than older adolescent peer counsellors.

This

finding clearly has implications with regard to training early and late adolescents in
the same group and also with regard to duration, frequency and temporal format when
training each of these groups separately. It may be that when training early
adolescents the training process will take longer and include more frequent repetition
of some components of training.

303
Older adolescent participants appeared to question the prominence of their profile
in the school community and anticipated negative consequences as a result of their
role more frequently than early adolescent peer counsellors. This behaviour which
resulted in the older adolescents discerning differences in conversation and
experimenting with the delivery of peer counsellor services when confronted with
negative or difficult peer responses was seen by the researcher to be a part of a
process of personal identity construction. In contrast early adolescent participants
responded and adjusted to negative feedback using strategies that would enhance and
augment their social identity.
Consideration of developmental stage differences between early and late
adolescent peer counsellors might be helpful in reducing the difficult aspects of role
attribution and status difference issues within each age group. These findings suggest
that attention during the recruitment process to ensuring homogeneity based on
developmental stage is desirable. However, further research would be required to
confirm this suggestion.
Contribution of quantitative findings
As intended, the quantitative data provided a different platform to that of the
qualitative data from which to view and contribute to information about the
phenomena of adolescent peer counselling. With regard to adolescent peer
counsellors emotional competence, the current study is consistent with results of
previous studies which have suggested that emotional competence may be promoted
and enhanced through social and emotional learning programs (Elias et al., 1997;
Payton et al., 2000; Saarni, 1990). The peer counsellor training program used in this
study is a social intervention strategy involving training in the use of social and
emotional competencies. Data indicated trends which reflected an improvement in

304
both early and late adolescent participants emotional competence immediately after
training. This suggests that the adolescent-friendly training program developed in the
current study is useful in enhancing and promoting emotional competence. However,
although trends revealed that the emotional competence of early adolescents
continued to increase over the following six months after training, the trends suggest
that the emotional competence of late adolescents appeared to decline over this
period. Further research is needed to discover how emotional competence of both
early and late adolescents can be maintained over time using larger subject numbers.
As in previous studies (Abu-Rasain & Williams, 1999; Carbonell, Reinherz, &
Giaconia, 1998; Kohler & Strain, 1990; Price & Jones, 2001; Turner, 1999;
Varenhorst, 1992), the current study revealed trends which suggest positive change in
self-concept occurring as a result of peer counsellor training. These findings extend
the findings of other studies with regard to changes in self-concept of adolescent peer
counsellors as a result of peer counsellor training. Previous studies examining changes
in self-concept of adolescent peer helpers have only reported changes in global selfconcept scores (Abu-Rasain & Williams, 1999; Carbonell, Reinherz, & Giaconia,
1998; Kohler & Strain, 1990; Price & Jones, 2001; Turner, 1999; Varenhorst, 1992).
The current study extended this work and examined the influence of peer counsellor
training on varying domains of self-concept and identified trends consistent with the
notion of overall positive change on the self-concept subscales of Status, Popularity,
Physical Appearance and Attributes and Freedom From Anxiety, but not on the
subscales of Happiness and Behaviour. The value in examining changes on various
domains of self-concept lies in the researchers ability to specifically identify those
aspects of self-concept that are either positively or negatively influenced as a result of
an intervention.

305
Through the use of the Adolescent Coping Scale (Frydenberg & Lewis, 1993),
new information has been obtained with regard to the way adolescents cope with
stress when training to become peer counsellors. They reported that they relied
strongly on Problem Solving coping strategies to deal with stressful issues that arose
for them as well as using non-productive coping strategies. This is consistent with the
findings of Frydenberg and Lewis (2000) who found the coexistence of productive
and non-productive coping strategies in adolescents. Peer counsellors in the current
study used the coping style of Reference to Others less than either Problem Solving or
Non-productive coping styles, suggesting that peer counsellors as a group may have
good coping skills and do not need to be dependent on others.
While in previous studies (Cowie, Naylor, Talamelli, Chauhan & Smith,
2002; Switzer, Simmons, Dew, Regalski, & Wang, 1995) gender differences have
been explored with regard to peer counsellor training, service delivery and program
evaluation, differences related to developmental stage have received little attention. In
the current study numbers in both the early adolescent and late adolescent groups
were small and therefore it was not appropriate to conduct quantitative analysis.
Quantitative findings provide another platform which might suggest that
developmental issues contribute to differences between early and late adolescent peer
counsellors with regard to their experience of training and acting in the role of a peer
counsellor. The emotional competence of early adolescent peer counsellors reportedly
increased over time whereas the emotional competence of late adolescent peer
counsellors decreased over time. A possible explanation for the increase in emotional
competence of early adolescent peer counsellors may be that issues with regard to
social identity development might have influenced their experience of training and
acting in the role of peer counsellor. As previously noted, early adolescent

306
participants may have responded and adjusted to their experience as peer counsellors
using strategies that enhanced and augmented their social identity. The reported
positive perceptions of early adolescent peer counsellors with regard to their
emotional competence may indicate responses that reflect social desirability. In
contrast with early adolescent peer counsellors, as found in the qualitative data, late
adolescent peer counsellors were more pessimistic about their experience as peer
counsellors. It is likely that this would have affected their reporting of emotional
competence.
Exploration of quantitative data with regard to changes in self-concept in the
current study raise the question of whether differences between early and late
adolescent peer counsellors exist. The outcomes might suggest that there could be
developmental differences between early and late adolescent peer counsellors on the
subscales of Status, Popularity, Physical Appearance and Attributes and Freedom
From Anxiety. Early adolescent peer counsellors improved in their perception of selfconcept whereas for late adolescents there was a decline in self-concept on these
scales. Pizzamiglio (2003) suggested that popularity acts as a buffer which
moderates the association between social competence and anxiety among early
adolescents. Taking this into account, it is possible that in the current study the stage
related developmental issues of social identity and the importance of popularity
within the early adolescents social group might have been responsible for the positive
perceptions of early adolescent as peer counsellors and have positively influenced
their experience of training and acting in the role of a peer counsellor.
Differences between early and late adolescent peer counsellors were also
suggested with regard to the degree of use of specific coping strategies. These
differences were noticed in particular at three and six months following training when

307
feedback from their peers with regard to their role was highly negative. Late
adolescent peer counsellors used problem-solving strategies less than early adolescent
peer counsellors. This suggests that there may be a difference in the way in which
early and late adolescent peer counsellors respond to the stress of being a peer
counsellor. As discussed the difference may suggest that early adolescent peer
counsellors have a more positive and optimistic outlook with regard to their
experience of being a peer counsellor when compared with late adolescent peer
counsellors.
Differences between early and late adolescent peer counsellors were also
discovered with regard to their perceptions of school climate. Younger adolescent
peer counsellors perceived the wider school community as more supportive following
training than older adolescent peer counsellors. Once again developmental stage
factors present plausible reasons for this difference. Younger adolescents are more
likely to perceive teachers as supportive, and to have a sense of security in the belief
that adults will fix the problem.
On all the quantitative measures used, although significance was not obtained
and subject numbers were small, the mean responses of early adolescent peer
counsellors rose and responses of late adolescent peer counsellors fell. It is suggested
that these outcomes may be related to developmental stage issues and could be
responsible for this profile. However, because of the limitation in the current study of
low numbers in both the early and late adolescent groups further research is necessary
with larger numbers to confirm these findings.

308
Theoretical Contribution
The theoretical contributions of the current study relate to prosocial behaviour
among adolescents, social support, and peer counsellor training. Each of these will be
discussed.
Prosocial behaviour among adolescents
The current study confirms and extends the findings of other studies with
regard to adolescent prosocial behaviour. It was found that there was a difference
between early and late adolescent peer counsellors with regard to the strategies used
and their motivation when providing social support to their peers. Early adolescent
peer counsellors were more likely than older adolescents to use strategies that would
enhance and augment their social identity and respond for reasons of social
desirability when providing social support to their peers. Thus their prosocial
behaviour may be motivated by social rewards. Late adolescent peer counsellors
appear to be concerned more with a fit between their search for self-identity and their
views of themselves as prosocial beings. They appear to be more altruistic than early
adolescents. These outcomes are consistent with the definition of prosocial
personality suggested by Penner and Finkelstein (1998) who acknowledge that other
modes of prosocial behaviour besides altruism are evident. They describe behaviours
motivated by the expectation of social rewards as being included in the definition of
the prosocial personality. The findings of the current study suggest that the reason for
these differences in the adolescent population, when compared with other age groups,
are because of developmental stage related differences between early and late
adolescents.
The range of prosocial behaviours addressed in published research, which is
restricted to examining overt behaviours such as sharing, helping, and volunteering is

309
extended in the current study. It follows the recommendations of Eberley and
Montmayor (1998) who suggested that research was needed into other forms of
prosocial behaviour and extends previous research by specifically examining the
conversational helping behaviour of adolescents from a relational perspective.
Social support
Social support in the form of conversational behaviours is known to enhance a
persons physical and psychological well-being (Esterling, Antoni, Fletcher,
Margulies, & Schneiderman, 1994; Jourard, 1971; Papini & Farmer, 1990;
Pennebaker, 1995; Raphael & Dohrenwend, 1987; Wegner, 1994). However, there are
no studies which attempt to understand how the process works between adolescents.
The current study provides new information that contributes to knowledge of social
support in the form of conversational behaviour among adolescents. Horowitz et al.
(2001) recommend that attempts to research supportive conversational reactions need
to emphasise continuous dimensions rather than categories which are discrete and
dichotomous and explore the impact of how linguistic conventions can transform
responses. The current study follows these recommendations and contributes to the
social support literature by identifying the interactive, collaborative, reciprocal and
idiosyncratic nature of helping conversations in adolescents. Additionally the study
explores the linguistic conventions in adolescents conversations that are aimed at
enhancing emotional and psychological well being.
Vaux (1988) and Cohen (1992) argue that the theoretical definition of social
support is restrictive and inadequate. These authors agree that a global definition
should not be used to describe social support. They suggest that types of relationships,
interactions between the provider and recipient of social support, reasons for
providing support, reciprocity, and recipient and provider characteristics are other

310
facets of the multidimensional concept of social support which are not captured in the
theoretical definitions. The authors also point out that models used to examine the
concept of social support typically found in the research literature are limited and can
generally be categorised as provider models. Though these models are important
because social support involves the provision of a resource, they are extremely narrow
in their performance as models to investigate the phenomena of social support. The
current study responds to the concerns of Vaux and Cohen and contributes to the
multidimensional definition of social support through an examination of the exchange
of resources between adolescents, the interaction between provider and recipient, the
structural constraints such as role attribution and status differences as barriers to
adolescent help seeking behaviour, and the provider characteristics and behaviours of
adolescents during a socially supportive conversation.
Peer counsellor training
Tindall (1989) suggests that trainers explore a variety of ways to approach a
single training model that can augment and supplement the training process to meet
specific group needs. The adolescent peer helper training literature fails to identify
how models of training have been adapted to include these recommendations.
Examination of current literature suggests that these recommendations may never
have been considered. The current study addressed this concern by investigating
which counselling skills and behaviours adolescent peer counsellor trainees preferred,
were easy to use by them, and were familiar to them, and then incorporated these
skills and behaviours into a typical helping conversation.
Morey and Miller (1993), in examining the relationship between student
satisfaction and peer counsellors style of helping, recommend that peer counsellor
training go beyond its primary emphasis on empathic listening and move toward a

311
consultative and collaborative model in which the peer counsellors learn to work
alongside the student as a co-problem solver. These authors reinforce the importance
of no advice giving and empathic listening. The current study contributes to the peer
counselling movement by demonstrating that it is advantageous when training
adolescent peer counsellors to go one step further and deliberately make use of the
idiosyncratic conversational helping behaviours of adolescents while focusing on the
process of the helping conversation. A major contribution of the current study is the
development of a manualised adolescent friendly peer counsellor training program
which combines typical adolescent communication and conversational processes with
specific counselling microskills identified by young people as easy-to-use, useful and
compatible with their typical conversational behaviours.
The current literature on adolescent peer counsellor training identifies
skill implementation, role attribution and status differences as problematic for young
people when acting in the role of peer counsellor (Carr, 1984; de Rosenroll, 1988).
The current study confirms these difficulties but contributes to the adolescent peer
counsellor literature by developing a program which eliminates skill implementation
issues and identifies the process used by adolescent peer counsellors to deal with the
difficulties associated with role attribution and status difference.
Methodological contributions
Longitudinal design
The longitudinal design adopted in the current study provided an opportunity to
examine outcomes for peer counsellors and non-peer counsellor students over time.
The ethnographic theoretical framework used as a basis for the current study provided
an opportunity to explore the way relationships are embedded in particular, times and
particular places. Consideration for this methodological design made it possible for

312
the experiences of peer counsellors, in particular, to be examined with regard to the
way in which they resolved problems identified in the literature with regard to role
attribution and status difference issues. By embracing a longitudinal design, the
current study has provided the strongest support to date for the finding that adolescent
peer counsellors are able to independently resolve issues of role attribution and status
difference when acquiring and using counselling skills with their peers.
Evaluation of the wider school environment
Research efforts to evaluate satisfaction with high school peer counselling
programs have been relatively unsystematic and sparse (Morey & Miller, 1993). In
the current study, the intention was to evaluate the impact of the intervention with
regard to the value of peer counsellors as a resource to be used by their peers in the
high school community.

It could be argued that it is not satisfactory to attempt to

measure the impact of an adolescent peer counselling program on the wider school
environment by relying on data from either the helpers or the recipients of help who
represent only a small subset of the entire population. In all previous studies,
evaluating outcomes of the peer counselling intervention has relied on feedback from
peer helpers or the recipients of help. A methodological advantage of the current
study was that data was collected from the wider school community to explore the
impact of the intervention on that community as it was seen to be more appropriate to
target a wider sample than either helpers or recipients so that the data would
accurately reflect the value of the intervention as a resource in the high school
community.
Intervention Research
A major methodological contribution of the current study was the use of an
intervention research focus. Because of the developmental life stage characteristics,

313
and the idiosyncratic communication and relationship behaviours of adolescents, an
intervention research approach was seen to be more likely to capture the interest of
young people, particularly in view of the potential outcome for them. This approach
aims to further participants interests in the research design, maximise their control
over the research process, and enhance the relationship between the researcher and
participants thereby increasing the potential richness of the data gathered (Fryer &
Feather, 1994). The central feature of intervention research is that it leads to
participants perceptions of the intervention having positive outcomes (Fryer &
Feather). The current study provided training for adolescents in peer counselling as a
central feature of the research which enabled them to fulfil a specific role in the
school community. The peer counsellor training program developed in collaboration
with the subjects of the study demonstrates the invaluable contribution of using an
intervention research process in adolescent research.
The principle of maximising participants control and participation is a
fundamental tenet of the intervention research process. The participants role in the
current study was central in deciding the content and format of the weekly training
session in the peer counsellor training program. In helping conversations using roleplays, subjects simulated the experience of counselling and being helped. The roleplay topics were selected by the subjects and agreed upon by the whole group as
being issues relevant to young people. Role-plays made it possible for the researcher
and participants to reflect and to seek specific feedback regarding the developmental
stages of a helping conversation, to identify which typical adolescent counselling
microskills could be used, and to take into account the ease with which the subjects
could incorporate specific helpful counselling microskills into the helping

314
conversation. Additionally the feedback regarding the interaction between the helper
and the person being helped during the conversation was obtained.
Using an intervention research approach the subjects in the second study of
the current project were trained as peer counsellors using information identified in the
first study. During this process the program developed as it proceeded, taking into
account feedback from the participants and information they provided about their
learning needs. Thus the research and the development of the program was consistent
with intervention research which focuses on research through "doing", deliberately
using the research project itself as a vehicle for implementing desired change.
Development of the School Climate Survey
A major contribution of the current project was the development of an
individualised School Climate Survey. Individualised school climate surveys have
been used to research specific parameters and/or concerns of a particular school.
When exploring issues with regard to prosocial behaviour and social support it was
deemed essential that the measurement used to gain understanding of these issues
specifically inquire about the interrelation of social factors and individual thoughts
and behaviour.
In the current project the researcher developed a climate assessment
instrument that focused on the psychosocial dimensions of school climate. The five
categories chosen from those discussed in the literature to operationalise the
psychosocial dimensions of the school climate survey were those of Respect, Trust,
Cohesiveness, Caring, and Morale and Expectations. These categories were a
composite mainly of affective-experiential items as well as a mixture of cognitivemanagerial items and were seen to be the most suitable to capture student perceptions
of the affective-experiential and cognitive managerial status of the school. Specific

315
scale construction techniques were employed (Mueller, 1986) as they were thought to
be essential for retrieving information from individuals when intentionally seeking
positive or negative attitudes about school climate. Therefore each item was
developed such that it expressed a clearly negative or positive opinion and neutral
items were avoided. Using a cumulative model of response processes (Likert scale)
rather than responses from an ideal point was desired in this survey to more
accurately discover current perceptions in school climate rather than perceptions of
preferred school climate.
The importance of creating a positive climate for prosocial behaviour cannot
be overstated. The significance of the School Climate Survey developed in this
project lies in its focus on the psychosocial dimensions of school climate and its
relationship with perceived support for peer counsellors from both peers and teachers
and other staff.
Evidence of psychometric integrity for item and factor scores was observed in
the development of the survey. The School Climate Survey developed for this project
identified two factors. Items on Factor 1 pertain to the way in which students relate
with each other, their expectations regarding peer relationships, the way in which
students relate with adults and prosocial behaviour among students. Items on Factor 2
primarily relate to students perceptions of their experiences with teachers and other
staff, teacher/staff behaviours with students, and the interactions between teachers,
staff and parents. The School Climate Survey developed for this project can be seen to
help generate data that described the present cognitive-managerial and affective
experiential status of the school. It is a survey that could be used in future research,
particularly where information is required with regard to ascertaining the degree to
which students positively perceive the relationships between students, and between

316
students and staff. Additionally, the survey has value in exploring the outcome of
interventions that impact on the link between social factors and the thoughts and
behaviour of individual students.
Contribution of the researcher as part of the intervention and evaluation.
A major contribution of the current study was the transparency of the
subjectivity of the researcher. In the collection, analysis and interpretation of the data
and during the more intimate interactions that occurred between myself, the
researcher, and the participants during training, supervision, assessment and as a
moderator of focus groups, I believe that I was able to contribute to and receive
information from the participants and from the context within which the research was
being conducted. This interactive approach and its responsiveness to the project
provided an opportunity for developing more reflective understandings about the
processes involved when adolescents counsel their peers.
By including my interpretations as part of my methodology I believed that I
could draw on relevant data from my personal and professional experience. My
interest in the subject area derived from my previous training and counselling
practice, and my experience as a counsellor.
The work of Cunningham (1988) provided the method which would place me,
the researcher, within the research so that I could be considered a part of my research.
Contextual locating facilitates the linking and weaving together of insight developed
in a number of different ways. Because the current project has been stimulated by
ideas which came out of my own experience as a counsellor and my knowledge of
adolescent development, to exclude myself from the research would have ignored my
role in data gathering, analysis, interpretation, and theory generation as a practitioner.
For example, by recycling memories of conversations and contacts with participants

317
recorded in my journal records I created an opportunity which heightened my
awareness of distinguishing between inventing personal meaning and knowledge
which was of value to me, and meaning and knowledge which could be of value to
others. This process of heightened awareness provided an opportunity in which I did
not suppress my primary subjective experience or allow myself to be overwhelmed
and swept along by it, but rather to raise it to consciousness and use it as part of the
inquiry process. Reason (1988) uses the terms critical knowing and critical
subjectivity to describe a similar process.
Because of my involvement in the research project changes to the training
content and model as well as the data collection process were anticipated and carried
out. For example, a major contribution regarding differences in age emerged because
my clinical observations of behavioural differences between older and younger
participants enabled me to anticipate the possibility of developmental differences with
regard to their experience as peer counsellors. In this sense the evaluation itself was a
developmental process since the methods of inquiry grew out of questions raised by
the dynamics of the project as it evolved. Continued involvement in the project
allowed me direct contact with participants and their experience and bypassed
reliance on the use of hearsay to draw conclusions and make interpretations.
Limitations of the current study
With regard to collection of quantitative data a limitation of the current study
was the small sample numbers in each of the early and late adolescent peer counsellor
groups. Small sample sizes constrained the statistical analyses with a consequence
that a hypothesised significant difference between early and late adolescent peer
counsellors was not able to be explored statistically.

318
It is recognised that subjects dropping out of the project between the end of
Study 1 and the completion of Study 2, is a distinct limitation of the current project.
Data with regard to the reasons for subjects dropping out, would have contributed
information with regard to differences between the group that completed the project
and the group that dropped out. This information may have identified that the dropout
group was in fact, a completely different group of students on particular dimensions
and as a consequence, added to the richness of the interpretations.
Another limitation relates to the collection of quantitative data on emotional
competence. Little research has examined the usefulness of emotional competence
self- report measures in adolescents (Spirito et al., 1991). Ciarrochi, Chan and Bajgar
(2001) suggest that this lack of research is perhaps justified by the limitations of selfreport measures, which include the potential that adolescents will distort their
responses for reasons of social desirability and will not have sufficient insight into
their own emotional intelligence to accurately report it. This may have been the case
in the present study. The tendency by adolescents to over inflate efficacy reports with
regard to their emotional competence limited accurate interpretation of the emotional
competence of both early and late adolescent peer counsellors. This limitation has
wider implications with regard to using self-report measures in adolescent research
unless those measures are used to compare same age subjects. In the current study the
use of a self-report measure, the Self-Report Emotional Competence Questionnaire
(Schutte et al., 1998), that was not normed, made it difficult to fully explore the data
with regard to emotional competence.
A further limitation of the current study was a short time frame of three
months between pre-and post-intervention assessments of the wider school
community. Systems theory would predict that when one member or some members

319
of a system change there is a ripple effect so that other members of the system change
(Minuchin, 1974). It was anticipated that the introduction of the peer counsellor
program would produce a ripple effect and that results of the impact of the
intervention would be reflected in positive changes with regard to self-concept,
coping and perceptions of the school climate of students in the wider system. Being
able to measure these expectations of change may have been unrealistic taking into
account the short time frame used.
No evidence of school wide change in non-peer counsellor student attitudes of
school climate was found following the introduction of the peer counsellor program in
the current study. Similarly, there was no evidence of changes with regard to nonpeer counsellor students self-concept or an increase in the frequency with which they
used the coping strategy of social support. Once again the time frame of three months
between pre- and post-intervention assessments might have contributed to the lack of
findings. Clearly further research over a longer period of time would be required to
assess whether such changes occur on these dimensions.
In those studies that do train adolescents in facilitative counselling microskills,
the impact on the wider school environment has not been evaluated by collecting data
from all students in the wider school environment but instead has relied on data either
from the peer counsellors themselves or the direct recipients of help. For example,
when studying the effects of a peer counsellor program on school climate, Swen
(2000) relied on data from peer counsellors only. Morey and Miller (1993) studied
student satisfaction with peer counselling in high schools with results obtained from
recipients of help. Similarly, Abu-Rasain and Williams (1999) relied on data from
recipients of help in focus groups and self-reports from peer counsellors. These
studies relied on data collected over periods ranging from eight months to two years.

320
It is possible in the current study that the ripple effect may initially, during the
three months immediately following training, have impacted only on recipients of
help or on students closely associated with peer counsellors. It is possible that over a
longer time and with an increase in the number of trained peer counsellors that the
ripple effect would have been more far-reaching. However, further research would be
required to determine whether this is the case. As stated previously evaluation of the
impact of the adolescent peer counsellor program in the current study may have been
compromised due to the limited time frame of the project. Studies have noted that it
may take several years for a school wide program such as a peer counsellor program
to become institutionalised and valued as a whole school activity (Lindsay, 1998;
Smith, Daunic, Miller & Robinson, 2002).
In the current study the trained peer counsellors were pioneers of a program
which was to serve as an adjunct to other counselling services provided in the high
school. Peer counsellors had been acting in their role for only three months at the
time of evaluation and compared with the number of students in the school they were
a relatively small group. This fact may also have been a factor limiting the evaluation
of the intervention. Finally the non-peer counsellor students in the current study were
part of a denominational school where high levels of pastoral care already existed.
Students may have had more frequent exposure to, and encouragement to use,
alternative types of social support. This would make it difficult to identify the effect
of the program on the wider school community.
Another limitation identified in the current study relates to difficulties faced
by the researcher as part of the research process in an external institution. At times it
was difficult to balance the needs of the participants while taking into account the
expectations of school personnel. Finding time for peer education and supervision

321
while meeting the demands of school personnel with regard to curriculum priorities
and timetabling was an ongoing challenge of this type of situation based research.
Implications and recommendations of the current study
Implications with regards to developmental stage differences
Developmental stage related differences between early and late adolescent
peer counsellors have been identified in the current study. It is suggested that the
identified differences be taken into account when recruiting early and late adolescents
for inclusion in peer counsellor training programs. It is recommended that in future
research into adolescent peer counselling homogenous groups of either early
adolescents or late adolescents should be used. This would make it possible to obtain
more accurate evaluation of processes and outcomes with regard to role attribution
and status difference issues. Additionally, this would reduce the limitations related to
the use of self-report measures mentioned earlier.
Recruitment processes which rely on nominations from peers, teachers or
other adults are generally based on the students availability, verbal and leadership
skills, motivation and responsibility (Tobias & Myrick, 1999). This process of
recruitment may be highly appropriate for peer counsellor training of early adolescent
participants as the process of recruitment emphasises the social issues of belonging to
the group and being valued by others and fits with the early adolescents focus on
social identity construction. This process of recruiting early adolescent trainees to
become peer counsellors is more likely to result in the trainees being accepted and
valued by their peers.
However, a self-selection recruitment process may be more appropriate for
older adolescents rather than having them selected or nominated by others. Because of
the importance of integrating personal constructs with regard to their self-identity,

322
recruitment processes which rely on self selection may be more appropriate as these
volunteers may be better able to accommodate and adjust to negative feedback from
their peers. Older adolescent volunteers are more likely to be committed to the
process of providing social support for their peers through the role of peer counsellor
which agrees with their own self-identity, social role perception and their views about
who they would like to become in the future.
It is recommended that it could be useful for future research to discover more
about the differences between prosocial peer counselling behaviours of early and late
adolescents. With larger numbers of subjects, important differences between early and
late adolescents may be identified along with the possibility of identifying differences
in changes over time for these groups.
Recommendations with regard to methodology
The substantive findings of the current study have implications with regard to
future research into prosocial behaviour among adolescents, and in particular, with
regard to conversational prosocial behaviour. Researchers could easily misconstrue
behaviours as being unhelpful if they do not understand the ongoing social
community of their subjects. The findings in the current study highlight the danger
when conducting research into adolescent peer counsellor training and adolescent
prosocial behaviour, of discounting and excluding prosocial attributes emphasised and
valued by young people. Whether adolescents view a peer as prosocial depends on the
helpers overall behavioural repertoire and their benevolent intent and should not be
seen as dependent on those specific communication skills deemed appropriate and
acceptable in the counselling and communication literature. It is possible for the
adolescent helper to use their typical conversational helping skills and still have their

323
peers consider them to be a prosocial person providing emotional and psychological
support.
Is recommended that future research on the value of peer counsellor
interventions as a resource in the wider school community employ methodology
which includes a longitudinal design of much longer than the three months duration
used in the current study. It is clear that it may take several years for a school wide
program such as a peer counsellor program to become institutionalised and valued as
a school activity (Lindsay, 1998; Smith, Daunic, Miller & Robinson, 2002).
A limitation identified in the current study relates to difficulties faced by the
researcher in the research process. While these limitations deserve consideration, the
involvement of the researcher in the research project should be valued even though it
runs counter to the notion that objectivity can only be achieved through maintaining
distance. Rather, it is strongly recommended that future research should embrace a
methodological tool such as contextual location to illuminate understanding of
phenomena being examined.
Recommendations with regard to adolescent peer counsellor training
Because some participants trained in the current study using an adolescentfriendly peer counsellor training program were dissatisfied with regard to whether
they had learned new skills or not, future research of adolescent peer counsellor
training might include evaluation of an intervention that extends the current study.
Evaluation of an intervention based on a model of training suggested in the peer
education literature could provide valuable information with regard to the success of
peer led adolescent peer counsellor training.
Peer education has become an increasingly popular way of carrying out health
promotion work with young people. A basic ethos of peer education is that it is

324
designed to be by and for young people; they themselves largely determine what is
relevant in terms of information and how it is to be delivered (Backett-Milburn &
Wilson, 2000). Backett-Milburn and Wilson suggest that this concept can be
disconcerting for adult stakeholders because if young people are left in control of
what is happening they can much less easily be made the mouthpiece for adult
messages or exhortations. The fear that inaccurate information or the wrong message
will be given is a real concern for adult stakeholders.
Two important points flow from this observation when considering the peer
education model as a template for training young people to use a counselling process
with their peers.

First is confronting the fear that young people may use

communication strategies that are considered by adult counselling professionals to be


unhelpful. When considering such a model for training adolescent peer counsellors,
the need for trainers to relinquish some control over what young people included in
the training content, precisely in order to enable them to perform their role as peer
counsellors in appropriate and relevant ways, would be difficult to accept. Adopting
such a model would require trainers to allow young people in general the space to
make their own choices and mistakes with regard to the way they provided
counselling support to their peers. Secondly, when young people do what they
determine to be relevant and helpful with their peers as peer counsellors, assessing the
impact upon the recipients is difficult, as adolescent helping conversations occur
informally and rely on what in most instances is a confidential service.
While encouraging young people to make their own choices and mistakes with
regard to the way they provide counselling support to their peers, it is important that
they are given information to enable them to take into account important factors
which relate to helping others. For example, issues relating to personal growth, values

325
clarification, understanding and respecting difference, limits to confidentiality, ethical
considerations when using helping skills, helper expectations/limitations, and referral,
all need to be taken into account in any training model.
Further implications from this study are that although the participants in the
current study resolved issues with regard to role attribution and status difference over
a period of time, role attribution and status difference issues could be eliminated if
peer counsellor training was provided for all students and not just some.

The

researcher agrees with the argument in the literature that social and emotional learning
programs should be incorporated into the classroom curriculum (Jones & Sandford,
2003). Because adolescents provide emotional and psychological support to peers
informally, it is possible that training for all students in the provision of
conversational social support would be useful. As a result of the training students
could then be invited to participate in specific programs where they could use their
enhanced helping skills if they chose. Issues of role attribution would be minimised
through the process of inviting students to participate in specific programs where they
could use their skills as students. Volunteering for such roles would make them no
different from their peers with regard to the skills required to function in these roles.
The opportunity to perform in specific programs would then be a choice based on
desire rather than difference. There is no doubt that findings in the current study
confirm findings in other studies with regard to the benefits to adolescent peer
counsellors of acquiring and using counselling skills with peers (Abu-Rasain &
Williams, 1999; Carbonell, Reinherz, & Giaconia, 1998; Kohler & Strain, 1990; Price
& Jones, 2001; Swen, 2000; Turner, 1999; Varenhorst, 1992). It is recommended that
research should be conducted to investigate the value of incorporating a peer
counsellor training program into the classroom curriculum.

326
The data from the National Curriculum Integration Project (Jones & Sandford,
2003) leave no doubt that conflict resolution education infused into the ongoing
curricular can have a significant and lasting impact on classroom climate. Based on
these findings, recommendations from the current study suggest that future models for
training peer counsellors blend components of peer counsellor education and social
and emotional learning with education. As a result of enhanced individual
competencies, constructive prosocial behaviour that enacts a caring community will
be promoted (Deutsch, 1973). A constructive, caring classroom community is the
foundation for the development of students social and character development (Elias
et al., 1997; Saarni, 1999; Salovey & Sluyter, 1997). In making these
recommendations a number of directions need to be explored, such as what are the
long-term benefits for students, teachers and schools that are presented with the
opportunity to learn these skills in the classroom and hence create caring and
constructive learning environments?
The current study clearly identified that adolescent peer counsellors preferred
to use typical conversational skills when helping their peers rather than use micro
counselling skills that are currently taught in adolescent peer counsellor training
programs. Additionally they like to use conversational skills which have been labelled
as roadblocks (Carr & Saunders, 1980). Consequently it would be useful for future
research to examine the actual conversational behaviours used by adolescent peer
counsellors after training, by comparing those who have been trained using a
traditional adolescent peer counsellor program with those trained using an adolescentfriendly peer counsellor training program as developed in the current study. The
researcher suggests that it is likely that most trained adolescent peer counsellors will
revert to using their preferred conversational helping skills and behaviours after

327
training regardless of the type of training used. Further research such as that suggested
could clearly contribute to our knowledge of adolescent peer counselling processes.

328

329

REFERENCES
Abney, P. C. (2003). A study of the relationship between the levels of self-awareness
within students enrolled in counselling practicum and the measurements of their
counselling effectiveness. Dissertation Abstracts International, 63 (9), 3112A
(UMI No. 3065683).
Abu-Rasain, M. H. M., & Williams, D. I. (1999). Peer counselling in Saudi Arabia.
Journal of Adolescence, 22, 493-502.
Adams, G. R., & Marshall, S. K. (1996). A developmental social psychology of identity:
Understanding the person-in-context. Journal of Adolescence, 19 (5), 429-443.
Adams, G. R., & Montmeyer, R. (1983). Identity formation during early adolescence.
Journal of Early Adolescence, 3,193-202.
Agar, M. H., & MacDonald, J. (1995). Focus groups and ethnography. Human Organization, 54, 78-86.
Allison, B. N., & Schultz, J. B. (2001). Interpersonal identity formation during early
adolescence. Adolescence, 36 (143), 509-523.
Anderson, C. S. (1982). The search for school climate: A review of the research. Review
of Educational Research, 52 (3), 368-420.
Anderson, R. (1976). Peer facilitation: History and issues. Elementary School Guidance
and Counselling, 11, 16-25.
Antonucci, T. C. (1985). Social support: Theoretical advances, recent findings and
pressing issues. In B. R. Sarason & I. G. Sarason (Eds.), Social support: Theory,
research and application (pp. 21-37). Boston: Nijhoff.
Ashforth, B. E., & Saks, A. M. (1995). Work-role transitions: A longitudinal examination
of the Nicholson model. Journal of Occupational and Organisational
Psychology, 68 (2), 157-176.

330

Bacchini, D., & Magliulo, F. (2003). Self-image and perceived self-efficacy during
adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 32 (5), 337-350.
Backett-Milburn, K., & Wilson, S. (2000). Understanding peer education: Insights from a
process evaluation. Health Education Research, 15(1), 85-96.
Bailey-Dempsey, C., & Reid, W. J. (1996). Intervention design and development: A case
study. Research on Social Work Practice, 6, 208-228.
Baker, J. A. (1998). The social context of school satisfaction among urban, low-income,
African-American students. School Psychology Quarterly, 13 (1), 25-44.
Baltes, P. B., Reese, H. W., & Nesselroade, J. R. (1988). Introduction to research
methods, life-span developmental psychology. Hillsdale,NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum
Associates, Inc.
Bandura, A. (1982). The assessment and predictive generality of self-percepts of
efficacy. Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 13(3), 195199.
Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal
attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117 (3),
497-529.
Baumgarten, E., & Roffers, T. (2003). Implementing and expanding on Carkhuffs
training technology. Journal of Counselling and Development, 81(3), 285-292.
Baumrind, D. (1991a). Effective parenting during the early adolescent transition. In P. A.
Cowan & E. M. Hetherington (Eds.), Family transitions (pp. 219-244). Hillsdale,
New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Baumrind, D. (1991b). The influence of parenting style on adolescent competence and
substance use. Journal of Early Adolescence, 11, 56-95.

331

Beaumont, S., L. (1996). Adolescent girls perceptions of conversations with mothers


and friends. Journal of Adolescent Research, 11, 325-346.
Becker, P. H. (1993). Common pitfalls in published grounded theory research.
Qualitative Health Research, 3, 254-260.
Becker, H. S., & Carper, J. W. (1956). The development of identification with an
occupation. Journal of Sociology, 61, 289-298.
Beinstein, J., & Lane, M. (1991). Relations between young adults and their parents.
Journal of Adolescence, 14, 179-199.
Benson, A. J., & Benson, J. M. (1993). Peer mediation: Conflict resolution in schools.
Journal of School Psychology, 31, 427-430.
Bergin, C., Talley, S., & Hamer, L. (2003). Prosocial behaviours of young adolescents: A
focus group study. Journal of Adolescence, 26, 13-32.
Bertges, W. (2002). The relationship between stressful life events and leadership in
children with an emphasis on explanatory styles and emotional intelligence.
Dissertation Abstracts International, 62(11), 5426B (UMI No .3035176).
Birnbaum, A. S., Lytle, L. A., Perry, C. L., Murray, D., & Story, M. ( 2003). Developing
a school functioning index for middle schools. Journal of School Health, 73 (6),
232-9.
Blum, A. F., & Rosenberg, L. (1968). Some problems involved in professionalising social
interaction: The case of psychotherapeutic training. Journal of Health and Social
Behaviour, 9 (1), 72-85.
Boekaerts, M. (2002). Bringing about change in the classroom: Strengths and weaknesses
of the self-regulated learning approach. Learning and Instruction, 12(6), 589-604.
Boldero, J., & Fallon, B. (1995). Adolescent help-seeking: What do they get help for and
from whom? Journal of Adolescence, 18 (2), 193-209.

332

Borrine, N. L., Handal, P. J., Brown, N. Y., & Seawright, H. R. (1991). Family conflict
and adolescent adjustment in intact, divorced and blended families. Journal of
Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 59, 753-755.
Bracken, B. A., & Mills, B. C. (1994). School counsellors assessment of self-concept: A
comprehensive review of 10 instruments. School Counsellor, 42 (1), 14-32.
Bradby, M. (1990). Status passage into nursing: Another view of the process of
socialisation into nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 15, 1220-1225.
Brandon, C. M., Cunningham, E. G., & Frydenberg. E. (1999). Teaching optimistic
thinking skills in pre-adolescence: Findings from a school-based program.
Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 9(1), 149-59.
Brandtstadter, J. (1989). Personal self-regulation of development: Cross-sequential
analysis of development-related control, beliefs and emotions. Developmental
Psychology, 25, 96-108.
Branscombe, N. R., & Wann, D. L. (1994). Collective self-esteem consequences of a
group in derogation when a valued social identity is on trial. European Journal of
Social Psychology, 24 (6), 641-658.
Brodkey, L. (1987). Writing ethnographic narratives. Written Communication, 4, 25-50.
Buckley, M., Storino, M., & Saarni, C. (2003). Promoting emotional competence in
children and adolescents: Implications for school psychologists. School
Psychology Quarterly, 18 (2), 177-191.
Buddeberg-Fischer, B., Klaghofer, R., & Leuthold, A. (2000). Correlations between
school stress, sense of coherence and physical/psychological impairment in high
school students. Psychotherapy, Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychology, 50(5),
222-229.

333

Buhrmester, D. (1990). Intimacy of friendship, interpersonal competence, and adjustment


during pre-adolescence and adolescence. Child Development, 61, 1101-1111.
Buhrmester, D., & Prager, K. (1995). Patterns and functions of self-disclosure. In K. J.
Rotenberg (Ed.), Disclosure processes in children and adolescents (pp. 10-56).
New York: Cambridge University Press.
Bulach, C., & Malone, B. (1994). The relationship of school climate to the
implementation of school reform. ERS Spectrum, 12(4), 3-8.
Burden, R., & Fraser, B. (1994). Examining teachers perceptions of their working
environment: Introducing the school level environment questionnaire. Association
of Educational Psychologists, 10(2), 67-73.
Burford, H. C., Foley, L. A., Rollins, P. G., & Rosario, K. S. (1996). Gender
differences in preschoolers sharing behaviour. Journal of Social Behaviour and
Personality, 11, 17-25.
Burns, N., & Grove, S. K. (1997). The practice of nursing research (3rd ed.).
Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.
Burrell, N. A., & Vogl, S. M. (1990). Turf-side conflict mediation for students.
Mediation Quarterly, 7, 237-250.
Burroughs, M. S., Wagner, W. W., & Johnson, J. T. (1997). Treatment with children of
divorce: A comparison of two types of therapy. Journal of Divorce and
Remarriage, 27, 83-99.
Cameron, J. E. (1999). Social identity and the pursuit of possible selves: Implications for
the psychological well-being of university students. Group Dynamics: Theory,
Research, and Practice, 3 (3), 179-189.
Carbonell, D. M., Reinherz, H. Z., & Giaconia, R. M. (1998). Risk and the resilience in
late adolescence. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 15, 251-272.

334

Carkhuff, R. (1983). Interpersonal skills and human productivity. Amherst, MA: HRD
Press.
Carr, R. (1984). The theory and practice of peer helping. Victoria, BC: Peer Resources.
Carr, R., &. Saunders, G. (1980). The peer counsellor starter kit. Victoria, BC: Peer
Systems Consulting Group, Inc.
Cartwright, N. (1996). Combating bullying in school: The role of peer helpers. In H.
Cowie & S. Sharp (Eds.), Peer counselling in schools: A time to listen (pp. 97105). London: David Fulton.
Carty, L., & Andrew, B. (1993). Nurse as counsellor: A model for counsellor education.
Guidance and Counselling, 9(2), 17-21.
Chan, C. K. (2001). Peer collaboration and discourse patterns in learning from
incompatible information. Instructional Science, 29, 443-479.
Chassin, L., & Barrera, M. (1993). Substance use escalation and substance use restraint
among adolescent children of alcoholics. Psychology of Addictive Behaviours, 7,
3-20.
Ciarrochi, J. V., Chan, A. Y., & Bajgar, J. (2000). Measuring emotional intelligence in
adolescents. Personality and Individual Differences, 31, 1105-1119.
Ciarrochi, J. V., Chan, A. Y., Caputi, P., & Roberts, (2001). Measuring emotional
intelligence (EI). In J. Ciarrochi, J. Foras & J. Mayer (Eds.), Emotional
intelligence in everyday life: A scientific inquiryy (pp. 25-45). New York:
Psychology Press.
Ciarrochi, J., Deane, F. P., & Anderson, S. (2002). Emotional intelligence moderates the
relationship between stress and mental health. Personality and Individual
Differences, 32 (2), 197-209.

335

Ciarrochi, J. V., Forgas, J., & Mayer, J., (Eds.). (2001). Emotional intelligence in
everyday life: A scientific inquiry. New York: Psychology Press.
Ciarrochi, J., Wilson, C. J., Deane, F. P., & Rickwood, D. ( 2003). Do difficulties with
emotions inhibit help-seeking in adolescents? The role of age and emotional
competence in predicting help-seeking intentions. Counselling Psychology
Quarterly, 16 (2), 103-120.
Cohen, N. J., Kershner, J., & Wehrspann, W. (1985). Characteristics of social cognition in
children with different symptom patterns. Journal of Applied Developmental
Psychology, 6, 277-290.
Cohen, S. (1988). Psychosocial models of the role of social support in the etiology of
physical disease. Health Psychology, 7, 269-297.
Cohen, S., & Syme, S. L. (1985). Issues in the study and application of social support.
In S. Cohen & S. L Syme (Eds.), Social support and health (pp. 3-22). Orlando,
FL: Academic Press.
Cohen, S., & Edwards, J. R. (1989). Personality characteristics as moderators of the
relationship between stress and disorder. In R. W. Neufeld (Ed.), Advances in the
investigation of psychological stress (pp 235-283). New York: Wiley.
Cohen, S., & Wills, T. A. (1985). Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis.
Psychology Bulletin, 98, 310-357.
Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal
of Sociology, 94(Suppl.), 95-120.
Comer, E., Meier, A., & Galinsky, M. J. (2004). Development of innovative group work
practice using the intervention research paradigm. Social Work, 49 (2), 250-261.
Compas, B. E. (1987). Stress and life events during childhood and adolescence. Clinical
Psychology Review, 7, 275-302.

336

Cowie, H. (1999). Peers helping peers: Interventions, initiatives and insights. Journal of
Adolescence, 22, 433-436.
Cowie, H., Naylor, P., Talamelli, L., Chauhan, P., & Smith, P. K. (2002). Knowledge,
use of and attitudes towards peer support: A 2-year follow-up to the Princes Trust
survey. Journal of Adolescence, 25, 453-467.
Crary, D. R. (1992). Community benefits from mediation: A test of the "peace virus"
hypothesis. Mediation Quarterly, 9, 241-252.
Cresswell, J., & Fisher, D. (1999) April. A School level environment study in Australia.
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research
Association (Montreal, Quebec, Canada).
Cunningham, E. (2001). Developing coping resources in early adolescence: Mediational
analysis of programme effects. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of
Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
Cunningham, I. (1988). Interactive holistic research: Researching self managed learning.
In P. Reason (Ed.), Human inquiry in action (pp. 163-181). Beverly Hills: Sage.
Cutcliffe, J. R. (1997). Towards a definition of hope. International Journal of Psychiatric
Nursing Research, 3 (2), 319-332.
Cutcliffe, J. R. (2004). The inspiration of hope in bereavement counselling. Issues in
Mental Health Nursing, 25 (2), 165-190.
Dakof, G. A., & Taylor, S. E. (1990). Victims perceptions of social support: What is
helpful from whom? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 80-89.
Davis, K. M. (2001). Structural-strategic family counselling: A case study in elementary
school counselling. Professional School Counselling, 4, 180-186.
de Rosenroll D., & Dey, C. (1990). A centralised approach to training peer counsellors: 3
years of progress. School Counsellor, 37, 304-313.

337

de Rosenroll, D., A. (1988). Peer counselling: Implementation and program


maintenance issues. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Peer
Helpers Association, Fort Collins, CO.
Deane, F. P., Ciarrochi, J., Wilson, C., Rickwood, D. & Anderson, S. (2001). Do high
school students intentions predict actual help seeking from school counsellors?
Paper presented at the Eighth National Suicide Prevention Conference, Sydney,
Australia.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human
behaviour. New York: Plenum Press.
Delongis, A., & OBrien, T. (1990). An interpersonal framework for stress and coping:
An application to the families of Alzheimer's patients. In M. A. Stevens, J.
Crowther, S. Hobfall, & D. Tennenbaum (Eds.), Stress and coping in later life
families (pp. 221-39). New York: Hemisphere.
Demetriades, A. (1996). Children of the storm: Peer partnership. In H. Cowie & S. Sharp
(Eds.), Peer counselling in schools: A time to listen (pp. 64-72). London: David
Fulton.
Deutsch, M. (1973). The resolution of conflict: Constructive and destructive processes.
New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press.
Dewey, J. (1997). Democracy and education. New York: Free Press.
Dielman, T. E., Shope, J. T., & Butchart, A. T. (1990, March). Peer, family, and
interpersonal predictors of adolescent alcohol use and misuse. Paper presented at
the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Atlanta, GA.
(ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED322426).

338

Dixon, W. A., Heppner, P. P., & Anderson, W. P. (1991). Problem-solving appraisal,


stress, hopelessness, and suicide ideation in a college population. Journal of
Counselling Psychology, 38, 51-56.
Downe, A. G., Altman, H. A., & Nysetvold, I. (1986). Peer counseling: more on an
emerging strategy. The School Counselor, 33, (5), 355-364.
Dreyfus, H. L. (1991). Being-in-the-world: A commentary on Heidegger's being and time,
division I. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Dubow, E. F., Lovko Jr K. R., & Kausch, D. F. (1990). Demographic differences in
adolescent health concerns and perceptions of helping agents. Journal of Clinical
Child Psychology, 19 (1), 44-56.
Duncan, B. L., Hubble, M. A., & Miller, S. D. (1997). Psychotherapy with impossible
cases: Efficient treatment of therapy veterans. New York: Norton.
Dunkel-Schetter, C., & Bennett, T. L. (1990). Differentiating the cognitive and
behavioural aspects of social support. In B. R. Sarason, I. G. Sarason, & G. R.
Pierce (Eds.), Social support: An interactional view (pp. 267-296). New York:
Wiley.
Eberley, M. B., & Montmayor, R. (1998). Doing good deeds: An examination of
adolescent prosocial behaviour in the context of parent-adolescent relationships.
Journal of Adolescent Research, 13(4), 403-432.
Egan, G. (1975). The skilled helper. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Egan, G. (1982). The skilled helper: Model, skills, and methods for effective helping (2nd
ed.). Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Egan, G. (1994). The skilled helper: A problem-management approach to helping (5th
ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

339

Eisenberg, N., & Fabes, R. A. (1998). Prosocial development. In W. Damon (Series Ed.)
& N. Eisenberg (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 3. Social,
emotional, and personality development (5th ed., pp. 701-778). New York: Wiley.
Eisenberg, N., Carlo, G., Murphy, B., & Van Court, P. (1995). Prosocial development in
late adolescence: A longitudinal study. Child Development, 66, 1179-1197.
Eisenberg, N., Guthrie, I. K., Murphy, B. C., Shepherd, S. A., Cumberland, A., & Carlo,
G. (1999). Consistency and development of prosocial dispositions: A longitudinal
study. Child Development, 70(6), 1360-1372.
Elbogen, E., Carlo, G., & Spaulding, W. (2001). Hierarchical classification and the
integration of self-structure in late adolescence. Journal of Adolescence, 24, 657670.
Elias, M ., Zins, J., Weissberg, R., Frey, K., Greenburg, M., Haynes, N., Kessler, R., et
al., (1997). Promoting social and emotional learning: Guidelines for educators.
Virginia, USA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Erickson, E. (1968). Identity: Youth and crisis. New York: W. W. Norton.
Esterling, B. A., Antoni, M., Fletcher, M., Margulies, S., & Schneiderman, N. (1994).
Emotional disclosure through writing or speaking modulates latent Epstein-Barr
virus reactivation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 130-140.
Esters, I. (2001). At-risk high school students preferences for counsellor characteristics.
Professional School Counselling, 4 (3), 165-171.
Ewan, C., & Calvert, D. (2000). The crisis of scientific research. In C. Rhodes & J.
Garrick (Eds.), Research and knowledge at work: Perspectives, case-studies and
innovative strategies (pp. 271-277). London and New York: Routledge.
Fabes, R. A., Eisenberg, N., Karbon, M., Bernzweig, J., Speer, A. L., & Carlo, G. (1994).
Socialisation of children's vicarious emotional responding and prosocial

340

behaviour: Relations with mothers perceptions of childrens emotional reactivity.


Developmental Psychology, 30, 44-55.
Fabes, R. A., Eisenberg, N., & Miller, P. A. (1990). Maternal correlates of children's
vicarious emotional responsiveness. Developmental Psychology, 26, 639-648.
Fetterman, D. M., Kafterian, S. J., & Wandersman, A. (1996). Empowerment evaluation.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Fisher, D. L., & Fraser, B. J. (1990). Validity and use of the school-level environment
questionnaire. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational
Research Association, Boston.
Fisher, D. L., & Fraser, B. J. (1991). School climate and teacher professional
development. South Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 19, 15-30.
Fisher, D. L., Fraser, B. J., & Wubbels, T. (1993). Interpersonal teacher behaviour and
school environment. In T. Wubbels & J. Levy (Eds.) Do you know what you look
like? Interpersonal relationships in education (pp.103-112). United Kingdom:
The Falmer Press.
Fisher, D., & Fraser, B. (1991). Validity and use of school environment instruments.
Journal of Classroom Interactions, 26(2), 13-18.
Fisher, D., & Grady, N. (1998). Teachers images of their schools and perceptions of their
work environments. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 9(3), 334-349.
Folkman, S., & Lazarus, R. S. (1998). Coping as a mediator of emotion. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 54(3), 466-475.
Forman, S. G. (1993). Coping skills interventions, for children and adolescents. San
Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Forouzesh, M., Grant, K., & Donnelly, M. (2001).Comprehensive evaluation of peer
programs. Pasadena, CA: California Association of Peer Programs.

341

Frank, J. D., & Frank, J. B. (1991). Persuasion and healing: A comparative study of
psychotherapy (3rd edition). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Fraser B. J. (1986). Classroom environment. London: Croom Helm.
Fraser, B. J. (1981). Using environmental assessments to make better classrooms.
Journal of Curriculum Studies, 13, 131-144.
Fraser, D. L., Williamson, J. C., & Tobin, K. G. (1987). Use of classroom and school
climate scales in evaluating alternative high schools. Teaching and Teacher
Education, 3 (3), 219-231.
Freedy, J. R., & Hobfoll, S. E. (1994). Stress inoculation for the reduction of burnout: A
conservation of resources approach. Anxiety, Stress and Coping, 6, 311-325.
Freidlin, B., & Salvucci, S. (1995). Empirical evaluation of social, psychological and
educational construct variables used in NCES surveys. Working paper series.
Washington, D. C.: National Centre for Education Statistics.
Frisz, R. (1999). Multicultural peer counseling: Counseling the multicultural student.
Journal of Adolescence, 22, 515-526.
Froming, W. J., Nasby, W., & McManus, J. (1998). Prosocial self-schemas, selfawareness, and childrens prosocial behaviour. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 75, 766-777.
Frydenberg, E., & Lewis, R. (1993). Boys play sport and girls turn to others: Age,
gender, and ethnicity as determinants of coping. Journal of Adolescence, 16, 253266.
Frydenberg, E. (1997). Adolescent coping: Theoretical and research perspectives.
London: Routledge.
Frydenberg, E., & Lewis, L. (1998). The adolescent coping Scale: Construct validity and
what the instrument tells us. (ED 421501).

342

Frydenberg, E., & Lewis, R. (1993). Adolescent coping scale. Melbourne: Australian
Council for Educational Research.
Frydenberg, E., & Lewis, R. (2002). Adolescent well-being: Building young people's
resources. In E. Frydenberg (Ed.), Beyond coping: Meeting goals visions and
challenges (pp. 175-194). London: Oxford University Press.
Fryer, D., & Feather, N. T. (1994). Intervention research techniques. In C. Cassell & G.
Symon (Eds.), Qualitative methods in organisational and occupational
psychology (pp. 232-247). London: Sage.
Furman, W., & Buhrmester, D. (1992). Age and sex differences in perceptions of
networks of personal relationships. Child Development, 63, 103-115.
Furman, W., & Robbins, P. (1985). What's the point? Issues in the selection of treatment
objectives. In B. Schneider, K. Rubin, & J. Leddingham (Eds.), Children's
relations: Issues in assessment and intervention (pp. 41-54). New York: SpringerVerlag.
Furnham, A., & Wardely, Z. (1990). Lay theories of psychotherapy I: Attitudes toward,
and beliefs about, psychotherapy and therapists. Journal of Clinical Psychology,
46, 878-890.
Furrer, C., & Skinner, E. (2003). Sense of relatedness as a factor in childrens academic
engagement and performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95 (1), 148162.
Galambos, N. L., & Leadbeater, B.J. (2000). Trends in adolescent research for the new
millennium. International Journal of Behavioural Development, 24(3), 289-294.
Gans, A. M., Kenny, M. C., & Ghany, D. L. (2003). Comparing the self-concept of
students with and without learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities,
36 (3), 287-296.

343

Garton, A. F., & Pratt, C. (1995). Stress and self-concept in 10 to 15 year old school
students. Journal of Adolescence, 18, 625-640.
Gavin, L., & Furman, W. (1989). The development of cliques in adolescents.
Developmental Psychology, 25, 827-834.
Geldard, D., & Geldard, K. (2001). Basic personal counselling: A training manual for
counsellors (4th ed.). Sydney, Australia: Pearson Education.
Geldard, K., & Geldard, D. (2004). Counselling adolescents: A proactive approach (2nd
ed.). London: Sage.
Geldard, K., & Geldard, D. (2003). Counselling skills in everyday life. Basingstoke
Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
Giacobbi, P. (2002a). Survey construction and analysis, part one: How to conceptualise
and design a survey. Athletic Therapy Today, 7(5), 42-44.
Giacobbi, P. (2002b). Survey construction and analysis, part two: Establishing reliability
and validity. Athletic Therapy Today, 7 (6), 60-61.
Gibson-Cline, J. (1996). Adolescents: From crisis to coping. A thirteen nation study.
Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of society: Outline of a theory of structuration.
Milton Keynes: Polity Press.
Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1966). The purpose and credibility of qualitative research.
Nursing Research, 15, 56-61.
Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for
qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine.
Gold, J. R. (1994). When the patient does the integrating: Lessons for theory and practice.
Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 4, 133-158.

344

Goldsmith, D. J., & Fitch, K. (1997). The normative context of advice as social support.
Human Communication Research, 23(4), 454-476.
Goldsmith, D. J., & MacGeorge, E. L. (2000). The impact of politeness and relationship
on perceived quality of advice about a problem. Human Communication
Research, 26(2), 234-263.
Goldstein, L. S. (1999). The relational zone: The role of caring relationships in the coconstruction of mind. American Educational Research Journal, 36, 647-673.
Gottfredson, D., & Gottfredson, D. C. (2001). What schools do to prevent problem
behaviour and promote safe environments. Journal of Educational and
Psychological Consultation, 12(4), 313-344.
Gottfredson, D., & Hollifield, J. H. (1988). How to diagnose school climates: Pinpointing
problems, planning change. NASSP Bulletin, 72(506), 63-70.
Greenberg, L., Rice, L., & Elliott, R. (1993). Facilitating emotional change: The
moment-by-moment process. New York: Guilford.
Greene, G. C., Caracelli, V. J., & Graham, W. F. (1989). Towards a conceptual
framework for mixed-method evaluation designs. Educational Evaluation and
Policy Analysis, 11(3), 255-274.
Greenglass, E. (1993). The contribution of social support to coping strategies. Applied
Psychology: An International Review, 42(4), 323-40.
Greer, H. (1991). A middle school activities programme that works (Report No. 66209).
Leawood, KS: Leawood Middle School. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service.
No. ED332965).
Gust, K. (1999). An exploratory study of suicidal behaviours and school personnel's
knowledge and perceptions of suicide at state-supported, residential high schools

345

for academically gifted students. Dissertation Abstracts International, 59(10),


3733A. (UMI No. 9911691).
Hair, J. F., Tatham, R., Anderson, R., & Black, W. (1998). Multivariate data analysis.
Sydney, Australia: Prentice-Hall.
Hackett, G. (1995). The role of mathematics self-efficacy in the choice of math related
majors of college women and men: A path model. Journal of Counseling
Psychology, 32, 47-50
Hall, D. T. (1976). Careers in organisations. Santa Monica, California: Goodyear.
Hamilton, D. L., & Sherman, J. W. (1994). Stereotypes. In R. S. Jr Wyer and T. K. Srull
(eds.), Handbook of social cognition, Vol 1: Basic Processes; Vol 2: Applications
(2nd Ed.) pp. 1-68. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Hannah, J. W. (1998). School climate: Changing fear to fun. Contemporary Education,
69(2), 83-86.
Harter, S. (1983). Developmental perspectives on the self-system. In M. Hetherington
(Ed.), Handbook of Child Psychology, 4: Socialisation, personality and social
development (pp. 275-386). New York: Wiley.
Harter, S., & Lee, L. (1989, June). Manifestations of true and false selves in early
adolescence. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research
on Child Development, Kansas City, MO.
Harter, S., & Monsour, A. (1992). Developmental analysis of conflict caused by
opposing attributes in the adolescent self-portrait. Developmental Psychology,
28(2), 251-260.
Heidegger, M. (1962). Being and time/Martin Heidegger; translated by John Macquarie
and Edward Robinson. New York: Harper and Row.

346

Henry, F. M., Reed, V. A., & McAllister, L. L. (1995). Adolescents perceptions of the
relative importance of selected communication skills in their positive peer
relationships. Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, 26, 263-272.
Herth, K. A., & Cutcliffe, J. R. (2002). The concept of hope in nursing 6:
Research/education/policy/practice. British Journal of Nursing, 11(21), 14041412.
Hill, L. A., (1992). Becoming a manager: Mastery of a new identity. Boston: Harvard
Business School Press.
Hinkle, J. S., & Wells, M. E. (2001). Family counselling in the schools: Effective
strategies and interventions for counsellors, psychologists, and therapists.
Greensboro, North Carolina, NC:ERIC/CASS.
Hobfoll, S. E. (1988). The ecology of stress. New York: Hemisphere.
Hobfoll, S. E. (1989). Conservation of resources: A new way of conceptualising stress.
American Psychologist, 44(3), 513-524.
Hobfoll, S. E. (2001).The influence of culture, community, and the nested-self in the
stress process: Advancing conservation of resources theory. Applied Psychology:
An International Review, 50(3), 337-421.
Hobfoll, S. E., Dunahoo, C.L., Ben-Porth, Y., & Monnier, J. (1994). Gender and coping:
The dual-axis model of coping. American Journal of Community Psychology, 22,
49-82.
Hobfoll, S. E., Freedy, J. R., & Lane, C. (1990). Conservation of social resources: Social
support resource theory. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 7(4), 465478.
Hobfoll, S., Freedy, J. R., Green, B. L., & Solomon, S.D. (1996). Coping in reaction to
extreme stress: The roles of resource loss and resource availability. In N. S.

347

Endler & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of coping (pp. 322-349). New York:
Wiley.
Hogg, M. A., & Abrams, D. (1988). Social identifications: A social psychology of
intergroup relations and group processes. London: Routledge.
Holahan, C. J., & Moos, R. H. (1987). Personal and contextual determinants of coping
strategies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52(5), 946-55.
Hopkins, B. J. (1999). Loss of relationship: An empirical study of Gilligan's theory of
female development. Dissertation Abstracts International, 59(11), 6092B. (UMI
No.0419-4217).
Horowitz, L. M. et al. (2001). The way to console may depend on the goal: Experimental
studies of social support. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 37, 49-61.
Howe, D. J. (1995). Academic self-esteem of Michigan high school students.
Dissertation Abstracts International, 55(7), 1897A. (UMI No. 9426888).
Hoy, W. K., Smith, P. A., & Sweetland, S. R. (2002). The development of the
organisational climate index for high schools: Its measure and relationship to
faculty trust. High School Journal, 86(2), 38-50.
Hupcey, J. E. (1998). Clarifying the social support theory-research linkage. Journal of
Advanced Nursing, 27(6), 1231-1241.
Huss, S. N. (1997). The effect of peer bereavement support groups on the self-esteem,
depression, and problem behaviour of parentally bereaved children. Dissertation
Abstracts International, 58(4), 1208A. (UMI No. 9729145)
Ibarra, H. (1999). Provisional selves: Experimenting with image and identity in
professional adaptation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44 (4), 764-792.

348

Ivey, A. E., Normington, C., Miller, W., Morrill, W., & Haase, R. (1968). Micro
counselling and attending behaviour: An approach to prepracticum training.
Journal of Counseling Psychology Monographs, 15, 5.
Jacobs, E., Masson, R., & Vass, M. (1976). Peer helpers: An easy way to get started.
Elementary School Guidance and Counselling, 11, 68-73.
Johnson, B. (1999). The relationships between elementary school teachers perceptions
of school climate, student achievement, teacher characteristics, and community
and school context. Dissertation Abstracts International, 59(11), 4055A. (UMI
No. 9911757).
Johnson, B., & Stevens, J. (2001). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis of the
school level environment questionnaire. Learning Environment Research, 4(3),
325-344.
Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, F. (2002). Joining together: Group theory and group skills
(7th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2002). Teaching students how to cope with adversity:
The three Cs. In E. Frydenberg (Ed.), Beyond coping: Meeting goals visions and
challenges (pp.195-216). London: Oxford University Press.
Johnson, W. L., Johnson, A. M., Kranch, D. A., & Zimmerman, K. J. (1999). The
development of a university version of the Charles F. Kettering climate Scale.
Educational and Psychological Measurement, 59 (2), 336-350.
Jones, S. M., & Burleson, B. R. (2003). Effects of helper and recipient sex on the
experience and outcomes of comforting messages: An experimental investigation.
Sex Roles, 18, 1-19.
Jones, T. S., & Sandford, R. (2003). Building the container: Curriculum infusion and
classroom climate. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 21 (1), 115-130.

349

Jourard, S. M. (1971). Self-disclosure: An experimental analysis of the transparent self.


New York: Wiley-Interscience.
Jourard, S. M. (1971). The transparent self (Rev. ed.). New York: Van Nostrand
Reinhold.
Jourard, S. M., & Jaffe, P. E. (1970). Influence of an interviewers disclosure on the selfdisclosing behaviour of interviewer. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 17, 252257.
Jourard, S. M., & Lasakow, P. (1958). Some factors in self-disclosure. Journal of
Abnormal and Social Psychology, 56, 91-98.
Kagan, B. (1980). Influencing human interaction: Eighteen years with IPR. In A. K. Hess
(Ed.), Psychotherapy supervision: Theory, research and practice (pp. 262-283).
New York: Wiley.
Kahn, R. L. (1994). Social support: Content, causes and consequences. In R. Abeles, H.
Gift, & M. Ory (Eds.), Ageing and quality of life (pp. 163-184). New York:
Springer.
Kalafat, J., & Elias, M.. (1995). Suicide prevention in an education context. Suicide and
Life-Threatening Behaviour, 25, 123-133.
Kanfer, F. H. (1980). Self-management methods. In F. Kanfer & A. Goldstein (Eds.),
Helping people change: A textbook of methods (2nd ed., p.336-380). New York:
Pergamon.
Karatzias, A., Power, K. G., & Swanson, V. (2001). Quality of school life: Development
and preliminary standardisation of an instrument based on performance indicators
in Scottish secondary schools. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12
(3), 265-284.

350

Kehas, C. D., & Morse, J. L. (1971). Perceptions in role change from teacher to
counsellor: Intra-role conflict and motivation for change. Counsellor Education
and Supervision, 10, 200-208.
Kellam, S. G., & Anthony, J. C. (1998). Targeting early antecedents to prevent tobacco
smoking: Findings from an epidemiologically-based randomised field trial.
American Journal of Public Health, 88, 1490-1495.
Kelley, E. A. (1980). Improving school climates: Leadership techniques for educators.
Reston, VA: National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Kelley, E. A., Glover, J. A., Keefe, J. W., Halderson, C., Sorensen, C., & Speth, C.
(1986). School climate survey. Reston VA: National Association of Secondary
School Principals.
Kelly, G. A. (1955). The psychology of personal constructs. New York: Norton.
Kelly, N. R., & Matthews, M. (2001). The transition to first position as nurse
practitioner. Journal of Nursing Education, 40 (4), 156-163.
Keys, S. G., & Lockhart, E. J. (1999). The school counsellors role in facilitating
multisystemic change. Professional School Counselling, 3 (2), 101-107.
Kids Help Line Peers Skills Program (2003). Energex peer skills program booklet. Qld,
Australia: Kids Helpline Administration.
Kiel, F. (1984). Characteristics to defining the shift in the development of word meaning.
Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour, 23, 221-236.
Killen, M., & Turiel, E. (1998). Adolescents and young adults evaluations of helping
and sacrificing for others. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 8(3) 355-375.
King, M. P. (2001). Cross-sectional and longitudinal research designs issues in the
studies of human development. Graduate Research in Nursing, June 1-7.

351

Knight, G., Dubro, A., & Chao, C.(1985). Information processing and the development of
cooperative, competitive and individualistic social values. Developmental
Psychology, 27, 37-45.
Knodel, J. (1994). Conducting comparative focus group research: Cautionary comments
from a coordinator. Health Transition Review, 4 (1), 99-104.
Kohler, F. W., & Strain, P. S. (1990). Peer-assisted interventions: Early promises,
notable achievements and future aspirations. Clinical Psychology Review, 10,
441-452.
Kolb, J. A. (1998). The relationship between self-monitoring and leadership in student
project groups. Journal of Business Communication, 35, 264-282.
Krueger, R. A. (1998). Analysing and reporting focus groups results: Focus 1 group kit 6.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Krug, S. E. (1989). Leadership and learning: A measurement-based approach for
analysing school effectiveness and developing effective school leaders. Urbana,
IL: National Center for School Leadership. (ERIC Document Reproduction
Service No. ED327950).
Kuhl, J., Horlick, L., & Morrisey, R. F. (1997). Measuring barriers to help-seeking
behaviour in adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 26, 637-648.
Langford, C. P., Bowsher, J., Maloney, J. P., & Lillis, P. P. (1997). Social support: A
conceptual analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 25(1), 95-100.
Langford, J., & McDonagh, D. (Eds.). (2003). Focus groups: Supporting effective product
development. London: Taylor & Francis.
Larsson, L. M., Suzuki, L. A., Gillespie, K. N., Potenza, M. T., Bechtel, M. A., &
Toulouse, A. (1992). Development and validation of the counselling self-estimate
infantry. Journal of Counselling Psychology, 39, 105-120.

352

Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal and coping. New York: Springer.
Leach, M. M., & Stoltenberg, C. D. (1997). Self-efficacy and counsellor development:
Testing the integrated developmental model. Counsellor Education and
Supervision, 37, (2), 115-125.
Leadbeater, B. J. (1996). School outcomes for minority group adolescent mothers at 28
to 36 months post partum: A longitudinal follow-up. Journal of Research on
Adolescence, 6, 629-648.
Leadbeater, B. J. R., & Way, N. (Eds.). (1996). Urban adolescent girls: Resisting
stereotypes, creating identities. New York: New York University Press.
Lee, F. (2002). The social costs of seeking help. Journal of Applied Behavioural Science,
38, 17-35.
Lerner, R. M., & Miller, J. R. (1993). Integrating human development research and
intervention for Americas children: The Michigan State University model.
Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 14, 347-364.
Lindsay, P. (1998). Conflict resolution and peer mediation in public schools: What
works? Mediation Quarterly, 16, 85-99.
Lippi, J. (2001). Up close and personal: The researcher at the centre of the research. In C.
Boucher & R. Holian (Eds.), Qualitative research methods: Emerging forms of
representing qualitative data (pp. 72-82). Melbourne, Australia: RMIT University
Press.
Litvack-Miller, W., McDougall, D., & Romney, D. M. (1997). The structure of empathy
during middle childhood and its relationship to prosocial behaviour. Genetic,
Social, and Genetic Psychology Monographs, 123, 303-324.

353

Lochman, J. E., Dunn, S. E., & Klimes-Dougan, B. (1993). An intervention and


consultation model from a social cognitive perspective: A description of the anger
coping programme. School Psychology Review, 22, 458-471.
Lohman, B. J. (2000). School and family contexts: relationship to coping with conflict
during the individuation process. Dissertation Abstracts International, 61(5),
2055A. (UMI No. 9971594).
Maccoby, E. D. (1990). Gender and relationships: A developmental account. American
Psychologist, 45, 513-520.
Maccoby, E. D. (1998). The two sexes: Growing up apart, coming together. Cambridge,
MA: Harvard.
MacIntosh, J. (2003). Reworking professional nursing identity. Western Journal of
Nursing Research, 25 (6), 725-741.
Mackenzie, V. (2001). Young people and their resources. Unpublished masters thesis,
University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
Magnusson, D., & Cairns, R. B. (1996). Developmental science: Toward a unified
framework. In R. B. Cairns, G. H. Elder, Jr., & E. J. Costello (Eds.),
Developmental Science (pp. 7-30). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Magnusson, D., & Torestad, B. (1993). A holistic view of personality: A model
revisited. Annual Review of Psychology, 44, 427-452.
Mahon, N. E., Yarcheski, A., & Yarcheski, T. J. (1993). Health consequences of
loneliness in adolescents. Research in Nursing and Health, 16, 23-31.
Manning, M. L., & Saddlemire, R. (1996). Developing a sense of community in
secondary schools. NASSP Bulletin, 80(584), 41-49.
Markus, H., & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible selves. American Psychologist, 41, 954-969.

354

Marsh, H. W., Smith, I D., Barnes, J., & Butler, S. (1983). The self-concept: Reliability,
stability, dimensionality, validity, and the measurement of change. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 75, 772-790.
Martin, J. (1994). The construction and understanding of psychotherapeutic change. New
York: Teachers College Press.
May, H. E., & Copeland, E. P. (1998). Academic persistence and alternative high
schools: Student and site characteristics. High School Journal, 81, 199-208.
Maybe, J., & Sorensen, B. (1995). Counselling for young people. Buckingham: Open
University Press.
McKenzie, V. (2001). Young people and their resources. Unpublished masters thesis,
University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
McLaughlin, F. E., & Marascuilo, L. A. (1990). Advanced nursing and health care
research: Quantification approaches. Philadelphia, PA: W. B. Saunders.
McWhirter, E. H. (1998). An empowerment model of counsellor education. Canadian
Journal of Counselling, 32(1), 12-26.
Menard, S. (1991). Longitudinal research. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Miller, D. (1991). Do adolescents help and share? Adolescence, 26 (102), 449-507.
Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and family therapy. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard
University Press.
Moore, C., Barresi, J., & Thomson, C. (1998). The cognitive basis of future-oriented
prosocial behaviour. Social Development, 7, 198-218.
Moos, R. (1974). Systems for the assessment and classification of human environments:
An overview. In R.H. Moos & P. M. Insel (Eds.), Issues in social ecology. Palo
Alto: National Press Books.

355

Moos, R. H., & Trickett, E. J. (1995). Classroom environment Scale manual: (3rd ed).
Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.
Morey, R. E., & Miller, C. D. (1993). High school peer counselling: The relationship
between students satisfaction and peer counsellors style of helping. School
Counsellor, 40, 293-301.
Morgan, D. L. (1997). Focus groups as qualitative research (2nd ed.). London: Sage.
Morgan, D. L., & Krueger, R. A. (1993). When to use focus groups and why. In D. L.
Morgan (Ed.), Successful focus groups: Advancing the state of the art (pp. 3-19).
Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Morrison, J. (1987). Youth suicide: An intervention strategy. Paper presented at the
Minnesota Community Mental Health Centre Fall Conference, Brainerd,
Minnesota.
Morse, J. M., & Field, P. A. (1995). Qualitative research methods for health
professionals (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Mueller, D. J. (1986). Measuring social attitudes: A Handbook for researchers and
practitioners. New York: Teachers College Press.
Mummendey, A., Simon, B., Dietze, C., Grunert , M., Kessler, S., Lettgen, S., &
Schaferhoff, S.(1992). Categorisation is not enough: Intergroup discrimination in
negative outcome allocation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 28,
125-144.
Mussen, P. (1977). Choices, regrets and lousy models. Division 7 Presidential Address
presented at the Meeting of the American Psychological Association, San
Francisco, CA.
Myrick, R. D. (1976). Peer facilitators: Youth helping youth. Elementary School
Guidance and Counseling, 11, 2-3.

356

Myrick, R. D., & Sorenson, D. L. (1988). Peer helping: A practical guide. Minneapolis,
MN: Educational Media Corporation.
Myrick, R.D., & Erney, T. (1978). Paring and sharing: Becoming a peer facilitator.
Minneapolis, MN: Educational Media Corporation.
Naylor, P. (2000). Elliot Durham Schools anti-bullying peer support system: A case
study of good practice in a secondary school. In H. Cowie & P. Wallace (Eds.),
Peer support in action (pp. 36-48.). London: Sage Publications.
Nelson-Haynes, L. (1996). The impact of the student conflict resolution program in
Dallas public schools. Dissertation Abstracts International, 56 (9), 3458 A (UMI
No. 960-1168).
Nelson-Jones, R. (1997). Practical counselling and helping skills (4th ed.). London:
Cassell.
Newman, R. S., Murray, B., & Lussier, C. (2001). Confrontation with aggressive peers at
school: Students reluctance to seek help from the teacher. Journal of Educational
Psychology, 93 (2), 398-410.
Nicoll, W. G. (1992). A family counselling and consultation model for school
counsellors. The School Counsellor, 39, 351-361
Noller, P., & Callan, V. J. (1990). Adolescents perceptions of the nature of their
communication with parents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 19, 349-362.
Noller. P., Feeney, J. A., & Peterson, C. (2001). Personal relationships across the
lifespan. Philadelphia, PA: Taylor & Francis.
Notarius, C.I., & Herrick, L. R. (1998). Listener response strategies to a distressed other.
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 5, 97-108.

357

OKelley, F. R., & Schuldt, W. J. (1981). Self-disclosure as a function of experimenters


self-disclosure, experimenters sex and subjects sex. Perceptual and Motor
Skills, 52, 557-558.
O'Connell, B. (1998). Solution focused therapy. London: Sage.
Offer, D., Howard, K. I., Schonert, K. A., & Ostrov, E. J. (1991). To whom do
adolescents turn for help? Differences between disturbed and non disturbed
adolescents. Journal of the American Academy for Child and Adolescent
Psychiatry, 30, 623-630.
Offer, D., Ostrov, E., Howard, K. I., & Atkinson, R. (1988). The teenage world: The
adolescents self-image in 10 countries. New York: Plenum Medical Book
Company.
Ortega, R., & del Rey, R. (1999, September). The use of peer support in the SAVE
project. Paper presented at the Ninth European Conference on Developmental
Psychology, Spetses, Greece.
Osterman, K., Bjorkqvist, K., Lagerspetz, K., Landau, S., Fraczek, A. & Pastorelli, C.
(1997). Sex differences in styles of conflict resolution: A developmental and
cross-cultural study with data from Finland, Israel, Italy and Poland. In D. Fry &
K. Bjorkqvist (Eds.), Cultural variation in conflict resolution (pp. 185-197).
Mawah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Oyserman, D., Gant, L., & Ager, J. (1995). A socially contextualised model of AfricanAmerican identity: Possible selves and school persistence. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 69, 1216-1232.
Paikoff, R. L., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (1991). Do parent-child relationships change during
puberty? Psychological Bulletin, 110, 47-66.

358

Painter, C. (1989). Friends helping friends: A manual for peer counselors. Minneapolis,
MN: Educational Media Corporation.
Paisley, P. O., & Benshoff, J. M. (1998). A developmental focus: Implications for
counsellor education. Canadian Journal of Counselling, 32(1), 27-36.
Papini, D. R., & Farmer, F. F. (1990). Early adolescent age and gender differences in
patterns of emotional self-disclosure to parents and friends. Adolescence, 25, 959987.
Parker, J. G., Rubin, K. H., Price, J. M., & DeRosier, M. E . (1995). Peer relationships,
child development, and adjustment: A developmental psychopathology
perspective. In D. Cicchetti & D. J. Cohen (Eds.), Developmental
psychopathology: Risk, disorder, and adaptation (p. 96-161). New York: Wiley.
Partnerships in Character Education Pilot Projects Program, (2000). School climate
questionnaire, school as caring community profile, US Department of Education
Tennessee Government, http://www.state.tn.us/education. Retrieved January 1,
2003.
Patton, W. (1999). From asking to helping: Research as positive intervention in
participants lives. Social Research and Social Change, 6, 19-30.
Patton, W., & Noller, P. (1990). Adolescent self-concept: Effects of being employed,
unemployed or returning to school. Australian Journal of Psychology, 42, 247259.
Payton, J. W., Wardlaw, D. M., Graczyk, P. A., Bloodworth, M. R., Tompsett, C. J., &
Weissberg, R. P. (2000). Social and emotional learning: A framework for
promoting mental health and reducing risk behaviours in children and youth.
Journal of School Health, 70, 179-185.

359

Peach, L., & Reddick, T. L. (1991). Counsellors can make a difference in preventing
adolescent suicide. School Counsellor, 39(2), 107-111.
Peavy, R. V. (1977). Adults helping adults: An existential approach to cooperative
counselling. Victoria, D. C.: Adult Counselling Project.
Pennebaker, J. W. (1995). Emotion, disclosure, and health: An overview. In J. W.
Pennebaker (Ed.), Emotion, disclosure and health (pp. 3-10). Washington DC:
American Psychological Association.
Penner, L. A., & Finkelstein, M. A. (1998). Dispositional and structural determinants of
volunteerism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74 (2), 525-537.
Perkins, D., Guerin, D., & Schlech, J. (1990). Effects of grading standards information,
assigned grade, and grade discrepancies on students evaluations. Psychological
Reports, 66, 635-642.
Persaud, D., & Madak, P. R. (1992). Graduates and dropouts: Comparing perceptions of
self, family and school supports. The Alberta Journal of Educational Research,
38, 235-250.
Petrides, K. V., & Furnham, A. (2000). On the dimensional structure of emotional
intelligence. Personality and Individual Differences, 29 (2), 313-320.
Phinney, J. S., & Devich-Navarro, M . (1997). Variations in bicultural identification
among African American and Mexican-American adolescents. Journal of
Research on Adolescence, 7, 3-32.
Piaget, J., & Inhelder, B. (1969). The psychology of the child. New York: Basic Books.
Piers, E. V. (1984). Piers-Harris Childrens Self-concept Scale. Revised Manual. Los
Angeles: Western Psychological Services.
Pilhammar Andersson, E. (1995). Marginality: Concept or reality in nursing education?
Journal of Advanced Nursing, 21, 131-136.

360

Pizzamiglio, M. T. (2003). Variability in perceived social competence as a predictor of


emotional reactivity in early adolescence. Dissertation Abstracts International, 63
(10) 4966B. (UMI No. AAINQ73351).
Platten, M. R., & Williams, L. R. (1979). A comparative analysis of the factorial
structures of two administrations of the Piers-Harris children's self-concept scale
to one group of elementary school children. Educational and Psychological
Measurements, 39, 471-478.
Platten, M. R., & Williams, L. R. (1981). Replication of a test-retest factorial validity
study with the Piers-Harris children's self-concept scale. Educational and
Psychological Measurements, 41, 453-461.
Pletsch, P. K., Johnson, M. K., Tosi, C. B., Thurston, C. A., & Riesch, S. K. (1991). Selfimage among early adolescents: Revisited. Journal of Community Health
Nursing, 8 (4), 215-231.
Ponton, L. E. (1997). The Romance of risk: Why teenagers do the things they do. New
York: Basic Books.
Powers, B. A., & Knapp, T. R. (1995). A dictionary of nursing theory and research (2nd.
Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Poznanski, J. J., & McClennan, J. (2003). Becoming a psychologist with a particular
theoretical orientation to counselling practice. Australian Psychologist, 38 (3),
223-226.
Price, S., & Jones, R. A. (2001). Reflections on anti-bullying: Peer counselling in a
comprehensive school. Educational Psychology & Practice, 17(1), 35-40.
Quick, J. C., & Gavin, J. H. (2001). Four perspectives on conservation of resources
theory: A commentary. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 50(3), 392399.

361

Radke-Yarrow, M., & Zahn-Waxler, C. (1988). The role of familial factors in the
development of prosocial behaviour: Research findings and questions. In D.
Olweus, J. Block, & M. Radke-Yarrow (Eds.), Development of antisocial and
prosocial behaviour: Research theories and issues (pp. 207-233). New York:
Academic Press.
Radke-Yarrow, M., & Zahn-Waxler, C. (1990). Research on children of affectively ill
parents: Some considerations for theory and research on normal development.
Developmental Psychopathology, 2, 349-366.
Raffaelli, M., & Duckett, E. (1989). We were just talking..: Conversations in early
adolescents. Journal of Youth & Adolescence, 18, 567-582.
Raphael, K. G., & Dohrenwend, P. B. (1987). Self-disclosure and mental health: A
problem of confounded measurement. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 96, 21417.
Readdick, C. A., & Mullis, R. L (1997). Adolescents and adults at the mall: Dyadic
interactions. Adolescence, 32, 313-322.
Reason, P. (1988). Human inquiry in action. Beverly Hills, California: Sage.
Reed,V. A., McLeod, K., & McAllister, L. (1999). Importance of selected
communication skills for talking with peers and teachers: Adolescents opinions.
Language, Speech, & Hearing Services in Schools, 30, 32-50.
Reinharz, S. (1992). Feminist methods in social science research. New York: Oxford
University Press.
Rentoul, A. J., & Fraser, B. J. (1983). Predicting learning from classroom
individualisation and actual preferred congruence. Studies in Educational
Evaluation, 6, 265-277.

362

Resnick, M. D., Bearman, P. S., Blum, R. W., Bauman, K. E., Harris, K. M., & Jones, J.
(1997). Protecting adolescents from harm: Findings from the national longitudinal
study on adolescent health. Journal of the American Medical Association,
278(10), 795-878.
Rice, K. G., Herman, M. A., & Petersen, A. C. (1993). Coping with challenge in
adolescence: Conceptual model and psycho-educational intervention. Journal of
Adolescence, 16, 235-51.
Rice, P. L., & Ezzy, D. (1999). Qualitative research methods: A health focus. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Richards, M. H., Crowe, P. A., Larsson, R., & Swarr, A. (1998). Developmental patterns
and gender differences in the experience of peer companionship during
adolescence. Child Development, 69, 154-163.
Rickwood, D. J., & Braithwaite, V. A. (1994). Social-psychological factors affecting
seeking help for emotional problems. Social Science and Medicine, 39 (4), 563572.
Rickwood, D. J. (1992). Help seeking of psychological problems in late adolescence.
Unpublished PhD Thesis, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
Roberts, C. M. (1999). The prevention of depression in children and adolescents.
American Psychologist, 34(1), 49-57.
Roberts, W., & Strayer, J. (1996). Empathy, emotional expressiveness, and prosocial
behaviour. Child Development, 67, 449-470.
Roeser, R. W., Midgley, C., & Urdan, T. C. (1996). Perceptions of the school
psychological environment and early adolescents psychological and behavioural
functioning in school: The mediating role of goals and belonging. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 88, 408-422.

363

Rogers, C.R. (1951) Client centred therapy. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.


Rogers, C.R. (1957). The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality
change. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 21, 95-103.
Rogers, C.R. (1965). Client centered therapy: Its current practice, implications and
theory. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.
Rojewski, J. W., & Wendel, F. C. (1990). Individualizing school-climate surveys.
Clearing House, 63(5), 202-207.
Roker, D., Player, K., & Coleman, J. (1999). Young peoples voluntary and campaigning
activities as sources of political education. Oxford Review of Education, 25, 185199.
Rook, K. S., & Dooley, D. (1985). Applying social support research: Theoretical
problems and future directions. Journal of Social Issues, 41, 5-28.
Rosenberg, S. L. (2002). Positive peers-differential impact of a social intervention
strategy on four personality subgroups. School Psychology International, 23 (4),
397-415.
Rosenfeld, L. B., & Kendrick, W. L. (1984). Choosing to be open: Subjective reasons for
self-disclosing. Western Journal of Speech Communication, 48, 326-343.
Rotenberg, K. J. (1995). Disclosure processes in children and adolescents. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Rothman, J., & Thomas, E. (1994). Intervention research. New York: Haworth Press.
Rumburger, R. W. (1987). High school dropouts: A review of issues and evidence.
Review of Educational Research, 57, 101-122.
Saarni, C. (1990). Emotional competence: How emotions and relationships become
integrated. In R. Thompson (Ed.), Socio-emotional development (pp. 115-182).

364

Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 36. Lincoln, New England: University of


Nebraska Press.
Saarni, C. (1999). The development of emotional competence. New York: Guilford Press.
Salovey, P., & Sluyter, D. (1997). Emotional development and emotional intelligence:
Educational implications. New York: Basic Books.
Sanders, P. (1996). First steps in counselling: A students companion to basic
introductory courses (2nd ed.). Manchester, UK: PCCS.
Sarason, B. R., Sarason I. G., & Pierce, G. R. (1990). Traditional views of social support
and their impact on assessment. In B. R. Sarason, I. G. Sarason, & G. R. Pierce
(Eds.), Social support: An interactional view (pp. 9-25). New York: Wiley.
Sava, F. A. (2001). Causes and consequences of dysfunctional teachers. RSS 501/2000
Final Report. Unpublished manuscript.
Scandell, D. J., Wlazelek, B. G., & Scandell, R. S. (1997). Personality of the therapist and
theoretical orientation. Irish Journal of Psychology, 18(4), 413-418.
Schein, E. H. (1978). Career dynamics: Matching individual and organisational needs.
Reading Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley.
Schoon, I., & Bynner, J. (2003). Risk and resilience in the life course: Implications of
interventions and social policies. Journal of Youth Studies, 6(1), 21-31.
Schutte, N. S., Malouff, J. M., Simunek, M., McKenley, J., & Hollander, S. (2002).
Characteristic emotional intelligence and emotional well-being. Cognition and
Emotion, 16, 769-785.
Schutte, N. S., Malouff, J. M., Hall, L. E., Haggerty, T. J., Cooper, J. T., Golden, C. J., &
Dornheim, L. (1998). Development and validation of a measure of emotional
intelligence. Personality and Individual Differences, 25, 167-177.

365

Schutz, S. E. (1994). Exploring the benefits of a subjective approach in qualitative


nursing research. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 20, 412-417.
Seiffge-Krenke, I. (1993). Coping behaviour in normal and clinical samples: More
similarities than differences. Journal of Adolescence, 19, 285-303.
Shave, D., & Shave, B. (1989). Early adolescence and the search for self: A
developmental perspective. New York: Praeger.
Shavelson, R. J., & Bolus, R. (1982). Self-concept: The interplay of theory and methods.
Journal of Educational Psychology, 74, 3-17.
Shepherd, K. K. (1994). Stemming conflict through mediation. School Administrator,
51(4), 14-17.
Shiner, M. (1999). Defining peer education. Journal of Adolescence, 22, 555-566.
Shochet, I., & Osgarby, S. (1999). The resourceful adolescent project: Building
psychological resilience in adolescents and their parents. The Australian
Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 16(1), 46-65.
Silva, A. A. (1997). A social constructivist and ecological perspective of science
teaching. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Universidade de Aveiro, Aveiro,
Portugal.
Silva, A. A. (1999). Physics education. Porto, Portugal: Edicoes ASA.
Simoni, J., Adelman, H., & Perry, N. (1991). Perceived control, causality, expectations
and help-seeking behaviour. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 4, 37-44.
Sink, C. A., & Yillik-Downer, A. ( 2001). School counsellors perceptions of
comprehensive guidance and counselling programs: A national survey.
Professional School Counselling, 4 (4), 278-288.

366

Sipps, G. J., Sugden, G. J., & Favier, C. M. (1988). Counsellor training level and verbal
response type: Their relationship to efficacy and outcome expectations. Journal
of Counselling Psychology, 35, 397-401.
Small, S. A. (1996). Collaborative community-based research on adolescents: Using
research for community change. Journal of Research on Adolescents, 6, 9-22.
Smith, D., Roofe, M., Ehiri, J., Campbell-Forrester, S., Jolly, C., & Jolly, P. (2003). Socio
cultural contexts of adolescent sexual behaviour in rural Hanover, Jamaica.
Journal of Adolescent Health, 33, 41-48.
Smith, M. R. (2003). The relationship between personality traits and trainee effectiveness
in counselling sessions: Cognitive flexibility, spirituality, and self-actualisation.
Dissertation Abstracts International, 63 (7), 2469A (UMI No. 13060 375).
Smith, N. L., Frydenberg, E., & Poole, C. (2003). Broadening social networks for girls
and particularly for boys: Outcomes of a coping skills program. Australian
Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 13 (1), 22-35.
Smith, S. W., Daunic, A. P., Miller, M. D ., & Robinson, T. R. (2002). Conflict
resolution and peer mediation in middle schools: Extending the process and
outcome knowledge base. Journal of Social Psychology, 142 (5), 567-587.
Snyder, C.R., Scott, T., & Cheavens, J. S. (1999). Hope as a psychotherapeutic
foundation of common factors, placebos, and expectancies. In M. Hubble, B.
Duncan, & S. Miller (Eds.), Heart and soul of change: what works in therapy?
Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association.
Spirito, A., Stark, N., Grace, N., & Stamoulis, D. (1991). Common problems and coping
strategies reported in childhood and early adolescence. Journal of Youth and
Adolescence, 20, 531-544.
Spradley, J. P. (1979). The ethnographic interview. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

367

Steinberg, L., & Morris, A. S. (2001). Adolescent development. Annual Review of


Psychology, 52, 83-110.
Steinhausen, H. C., & Metzke, C W. (2001). Risk, compensatory, vulnerability, and
protective factors influencing mental health in adolescence. Journal of Youth and
Adolescence, 30, 259-281.
Stevens, E. S. (1992). Reciprocity in social support: An advantage for the ageing family.
The Journal of Contemporary Human Services, 3, 533-541.
Stevens, R., & Pihl, R. O. (1982). The remediation of the student at-risk for failure.
Journal of Clinical Psychology, 38, 298-301.
Stevhan, L., Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R., Green, K., & Laginski, A. (1997). Effects of
integrating conflict resolution training into English literature on high school
students. Journal of Social Psychology, 137, 302-315.
Steward, R. J., et al. (1998). Psychological adjustment and coping styles of urban African
American high school students. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and
Development, 26, 70-82.
Stewart, J. B. (1998). Problem-based learning in counsellor education. Canadian
Journal of Counselling, 32(1), 37-49.
Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1994). Grounded theory methodology: An overview. In N.
Denzin, & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research. CA, Thousand
Oaks: Sage.
Stoltenberg, C. D., & Delworth, U. (1987). Supervising counsellors and therapists. San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Stonequist, E. V. (1966). The marginal man: A study of personality and culture conflict.
New York: Russell & Russell.
Sullivan, H. S. (1953). The interpersonal theory of psychiatry. New York: Norton.

368

Swen, S. F. (2000). Participation in a peer helpers program: Students perception of


school climate and personal growth. Dissertation Abstracts International, 61 (5)
4055A. (UMI No. 19974718).
Switzer, G. E., Simmons, R. G., Dew, M. A., Regalski, J. M., & Wang, C. (1995). The
effect of a school-based helper program on adolescent self-image, attitudes, and
behaviour. Journal of Early Adolescence, 15 (4), 429-455.
Sypher, B. D., & Sypher, H. E. (1983). Perceptions of communication ability: Selfmonitoring in an organisational setting. Personality and Social Psychology
Bulletin, 9, 297-304.
Tabachnick,B. G., & Fiddell, L. S. (2001). Using multivariate statistics. Boston Mass.:
Allyn and Bacon.
Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1979). An integrative theory of intergroup conflict. In W. G.
Austin & S. Worchel (eds.), The social psychology of intergroup relations.
Monterey, California: Brooks/Cole.
Tallman, K., & Bohart, A. (1999). The client as a common factor: Clients as self-healers.
In M. Hubble, B. Duncan, & S. Miller (Eds.), The heart and soul change: What
works in therapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Tatum, R. J. (2001). Self-concept, stress coping resources, and locus of control in early
adolescent African-American and White students. Dissertation Abstracts
International, 61(10), 5611B. (UMI No. 9991810).
Tesch, R. (1995). Qualitative research: Analysis types and software tools. Hampshire:
The Falmer Press.
Thoits, P. A. (1995). Stress, coping, and social support processes: Where are we? What
next? Journal of Health and Social Behavior (Extra Issue), 53-79.

369

Thompson, L. (1997). Childhood sexual abuse: An investigation of its impact on


children's coping, self-efficacy, emotion regulation and perceptions of self and
others. Dissertation Abstracts International, 57(12), 7745B. (UMI No. 9715633).
Thomson, N. E., & Gurney, A. G. (2003). He is everything: Religions role in the lives
of immigrant youth. New Directions for Youth Development, 100, 75-90.
Thorogood, N. (1992). What is the relevance of sociology for health promotion? In R.
Bunton & G. MacDonald (Eds.), Health promotion: Disciplines and diversity (p.
42). London: Routledge.
Tindall, J. A. (1989). Peer counselling: An in-depth look at training peer helpers (3rd ed.).
Muncie, IN: Accelerated Development Inc.
Tishby, O., et al. (2001). Helper-seeking attitudes among Israeli adolescents.
Adolescence, 36, 249-315.
Toepfer, C., F. (1999). Why middle level schools need ethical, moral, and character
education. NELMS Journal, Spring, 5-12.
Topping, K., & Ehly, S. (1998). Peer-assisted learning. Marwah, NJ: Lawrence
Erlbaum.
Tremblay, R. E., Masse, L. C., Vitaro, F., & Dobkin, P. L. (1995). The impact of friends
deviant behaviour on early onset of delinquency: Longitudinal data from 6 to 13
years of age. Development and Psychopathology, 7, 649-667.
Truax, C., & Carkhuff, R. R. (1967). Toward effective counselling and psychotherapy:
Training and practice. Chicago: Aldine.
Tschannen-Moran, M. (2001). The effects of a state-wide conflict management initiative
in schools. American Secondary Education, 29 (3), 2-33.
Turkstra, L. S. (2001). Partner effects in adolescents conversations. Journal of
Communication Disorders, 34, 151-162.

370

Turner, G. (1999). Peer support and young peoples health. Journal of Adolescence, 22,
567-572.
Turner, J. C. (1987). Rediscovering the social group: A self-categorisation theory.
Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell.
Turner, R. J., & Roszell, P. (1994). Psychosocial resources and the stress process. In W.
R. Avison & I. H. Gotlib (Eds.), Stress and mental health: Contemporary issues
and prospects for the future (pp. 179-210). New York: Plenum.
Van Maanen, J., & Schein, E. H. (1979). Toward a theory of organisational socialisation.
In B. Staw, & L. L. Cummings (Eds) Research in organisational behaviour vol.
1, (pp.209-264). Greenwich, Connecticut: J. A. I. Press.
Vanderzeil, M. (2000). Development of a version of the conservation of resources
evaluation for use with adolescents. Unpublished masters thesis, University of
Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
Varenhorst, B. B. (1992). Developing youth as resources to their peers. Journal of
Emotional & Behavioural Problems, 1, 10-14
Vaux, A. (1988). Social support: Theory, research and intervention. New York: Praeger.
Waters, J. L. (1992). The demands and coping strategies of adolescent freshman in the
transition to post-secondary education. Unpublished master's thesis, University of
Calgary, Calgary, AB.
Way, N., & Leadbeater, B. J. (1999). Pathways toward educational achievement among
African-American and Puerto Rican adolescent mothers: Re-examining the role of
social support from families. Development and Psychopathology, 11(2), 349-364.
Webb, C. (1989). Action research philosophy, methods and personal experiences. Journal
of Advanced Nursing, 14, 403-410.

371

Wegner, D. M. (1994). Ironic processes of mental control. Psychological Review, 101,


34-52.
Weigel, R. G., Weigel,V. M., & Chadwick, P.C. (1969). Reported and projected selfdisclosure. Psychological Reports, 24, 283-287.
Weinberg, R. A., & Erickson, M. F. (1996). Minnesota's children, youth, and family
consortium: A university-community collaboration. Journal of Research on
Adolescence, 6, 37-54.
Whelage, G. G. (1989a). Dropping out: Can schools be expected to prevent it? In L.
Weiss, E. Farrer, & H. G. Petrie (Eds.), Dropouts from school: Issues, dilemmas,
and solutions (pp. 181-204). New York: SUNY Press.
Whelage, G. G. (1989b). Engagement, not remediation or higher standards. In J. M.
Lakebrink (Ed.), Children at risk (pp. 57-73). Springfield IL: Charles C. Thomas.
Whelage, G. G., & Rutter, R. A. (1986). Dropping out: How much do schools contribute
to the problem? Teachers College Record, 87, 374-392.
Whitaker, A., et al., (1990). Uncommon troubles in young people. Archives of General
Psychiatry, 47, 487-496.
White, F. A. (1996). Parent, adolescent communication and adolescent decision-making.
Journal of Family Studies, 2, 41-56.
Wilde, C. (1992). Controversial hypotheses on the relationship between researcher and
informant in qualitative research. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 17, 234-242.
Wiley, R. (1974). The self-concept: A review of methodological consideration and
measuring instruments (vol. 1). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Wilson, C. J., & Deane, F. P. (2001). Adolescent opinions about reducing help-seeking
barriers and increasing appropriate help engagement. Journal of Educational and
Psychological Consultation, 12 (4), 345-364.

372

Winefield, A. H., & Tiggeman, M. (1990). Employment status and psychological wellbeing: A longitudinal study. Journal of Applied Psychology, 75, 455-459.
Wiseman, H. (1998). Training counsellors in the process-experiential approach. British
Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 26(1), 105-119.
Wolfe, R., & Dryden, W. (1996). Handbook of counselling psychology. London: Sage.
Worcel, S. D., Shields, S. A., & Paterson, C. A. (1999). She looked at me crazy:
Escalation of conflict through telegraphed emotion. Adolescence, 34, 689-698.
Wright, S. S., & Forsyth, D. R. (1997). Group membership and collective identity:
Consequences for self-esteem. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 16, 4356.
Yagil, D., & Israelashvili, M. (2003). Helpers characteristics and problem intimacy as
determinants of emotions associated with help-seeking. Counselling Psychology
Quarterly, 16 (3), 223-228.
Yonker, R. J., Blixt, S., & Dinero, T. (1974). A methodological investigation of the
development of a semantic differential to assess self-concept. Paper presented at
the National Council on Measurement in Education, Chicago.
Yost, J. H., Stube, M. J ., & Bailey, J. R. (1992). The construction of the self: An
revolutionary view. Current Psychology: Research and Reviews, 11, 110-121.
Young, R. A., Antal, S., Bassett, M. E., Post, A., DeVries, N., & Valach, L. (1999). The
joint actions of adolescents in peer conversations about career. Journal of
Adolescence, 22, 527-538.
Youngs, G. A., Rathge, R., Mullis, R., & Mullis, A.(1990).Adolescent stress and selfesteem. Adolescence, 25, 333-341.