Social Competency CBT-Based Group Training for Youth in Alternative School Settings

  • Rachael C. Murrihy


The need for alternative educational places for at-risk youth has increased dramatically in the United States with enrolments quadrupling in the last 15 years, and demand exceeding available placements. The United States is not alone in this predicament. Students from other western countries have a similar need for alternative school placements. Australia, Canada, England, Scotland, and Wales all report behavioral problems and their consequences, expulsion and transfer to alternative programs, as growing challenges for their educational system. Given the large number of students serviced by alternative schools, it is critical that students are offered effective remediation. Most educators agree that whether alternative programs or schools “empower or entrap” students depends upon the adoption of evidence-based practice in both academic and therapeutic interventions. Therapeutic treatment and the effectiveness of these treatments constitute the focus of this chapter. We will review published studies to ascertain the effectiveness of skills-based group therapy programs (e.g. anger management training) and consider current knowledge with regard to the risk associated with aggregating groups of youth with conduct problems (i.e. deviancy training).


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Anger Management Mainstream School Alternative School Alternative Program 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Amish, P. L., Gesten, E. L., Smith, J. K., Clark, H. B., & Stark, C. (1988). Social problem solving training for severely emotionally and behaviorally disturbed training. Behavioral Disorders, 13(3), 175–186.Google Scholar
  2. Atkins, T., Allen, J., & Meredith. M. (2001). Alternative schools information for families. Washington, DC: Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice. Retrieved September 10, 2003, from Scholar
  3. Cassidy, E., James, A., & Wiggs, L. (2001). The prevalence of psychiatric disorder in children attending a school for pupils with emotional and behavioral difficulties. British Journal of Special Education, 28(4), 167–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Castleberry, S., & Enger, J. (1998). Alternative school students’ concepts of success. [Electronic version] NASSP Bulletin, 105–111.Google Scholar
  5. Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice. (1999). Emphasizing achievement [electronic version]. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 7, 252–254.Google Scholar
  6. Cobb, C., Brewer, D., Bauman, A., Groves, P., Rayle, J., & Noblit, G. (1997). Alternative learning programs evaluation: Part 3 report. Case studies of alternative schools and programs [Electronic source]. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction.Google Scholar
  7. Cole, T., Visser, J., & Upton, G. (1988). Effective schooling for children with emotional and behavioral difficulties. London: David Fulton.Google Scholar
  8. Cortez, A., & Montecel, M. R. (1999). Disciplinary alternative education programs in Texas – What is known: What is needed. [Electronic version]. San Antonio: Intercultural Development Research Association. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED434963)Google Scholar
  9. Cox, S. M., Davidson, W. S., & Bynum, T. S. (1995). A meta-analytic assessment of delinquency-related outcomes of alternative education programs. Crime and Delinquency, 41(2), 219–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crick, N. R., & Dodge, K. A. (1994). A review and reformulation of social information- processing mechanisms in children’s social adjustment. Psychological Bulletin, 115, 74–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. DiGuiseppe, R. (1995). Developing the therapeutic alliance with angry clients. In H. Kassinove (Ed.), Anger disorders: definition, diagnosis and treatment (pp. 131–150). Philadelphia, PA: Taylor and Francis.Google Scholar
  12. Dishion, T. J., & Andrews, D. W. (1995). Preventing escalation in problem behaviors with high-risk adolescents: Immediate and 1-year outcomes. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63, 538–548.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dishion, T. J., Capaldi, D. M., Spracklen, K. M., & Li, F. (1995). Peer ecology of male adolescent drug use. Development and Psychopathology, 7, 803–824.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dishion, T. J, Dodge, K. A., & Lansford, J. E. (2006). Findings and recommendations: A blueprint to minimise deviant peer influence in youth interventions and programs. In K. A Dodge, T. J. Dishion, & J. E. Lansford, J. E (Ed.), Deviant peer influences in programs for youth (pp. 366–394). NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  15. Dishion, T. J., Dodge, K. A., & Lansford, J. E. (2008). Deviant by design: Risks associated With aggregating deviant peers into group prevention and treatment programs. The Prevention Researcher, 15(1), 8–11.Google Scholar
  16. Dishion, T. J., Eddy, J. M., Haas, E., Li, F., & Spracklen, K. (1997). Friendships and violent behavior during adolescence. Social Development, 6, 207–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dishion, T. J., McCord, J., & Poulin, F. (1999). When interventions harm: Peer groups and problem behaviors. American Psychologist, 54(9), 755–764.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dishion, T. J., Spracklen, K. M., Andrews, D. W., & Patterson, G. R. (1996). Deviancy training in male adolescent friendships. Behavior Therapy, 27, 373–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dodge, K. A. (1980). Social cognition and children’s aggressive behavior. Child Development, 51(1), 162–170.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dodge, K. A., Lanford, J. E. & Dishion, T. J. (2006). The problem of deviant peer influences in intervention programs. In K. A. Dodge, T. J. Dishion, & J. E. Lansford, J. E (Ed.), Deviant peer influences in programs for youth (pp. 366–394). NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  21. Durlak, J. A. (1982). Use of cognitive-behavioral interventions by paraprofessionals in the schools. School Psychology Review, 11, 64–66.Google Scholar
  22. Editorial (2006, August 16). School’s out... so where do the bad students go? The Sydney Morning Herald.Google Scholar
  23. Elliot, A. (2009). Alternatives to school suspensions. Australian Council for Educational Research eNews, 16, Retrieved May 1, 2009, from Scholar
  24. Etscheidt, S. (1991). Reducing aggressive behavior and improving self-control: A cognitive behavioral training program for behaviorally disordered adolescents. Behavioral Disorders, 16(2), 107–115.Google Scholar
  25. Feindler, E. L., Marriott, S. A., & Iwata, M. (1984). Group anger control training for junior high school adolescents. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 8(3), 299–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fitzsimons Hughes, A., & Adera, B. (2006). Education and day treatment opportunities in schools: strategies that work. Preventing School Failure, 51(1), 26–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fitzsimons-Lovett, A. (2001). Alternative education programs: empowerment or entrapment? The Council for Children and Behavioral Disorders Monograph p. 37–41.Google Scholar
  28. Gendron, M., Royer, E., Bertrand, R., & Potvin, P. (2004). Behavior disorders, social competence and the practice of physical activities among adolescents. Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties, 9, 249–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gresham, F. M. (1985). Utility of cognitive behavioral procedures for social skills training with children: A critical review. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 13, 411–423.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Groth, C. (1998). Dumping ground or effective alternative? Urban Education, 33(2), 218–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gulchak, D. J., & Lopes, J. A. (2007). Interventions for students with behavioral disorders: An international literature review. Behavioral Disorders, 32(4), 267–281.Google Scholar
  32. Hartup, W. W. (1983). Peer relations. In P. H. Mussen & E. M. Hetherington (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology (Socialization, personality, and social development, Vol. 4, pp. 103–196). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  33. Hartup, W. W. (1999). Constraints on peer socialization: Let me count the ways. Merrill- Palmer Quarterly [Electronic version], 45, 172–183.Google Scholar
  34. Hartup, W. W. (2005). Peer interaction: What causes what? Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 33(3), 387–394.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Head, G., Kane, J., & Cogan, N. (2003). Behavior support in secondary schools. Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties, 8, 33–42.Google Scholar
  36. Hemphill, S. (2009, April 27). Suspending students leads to other problems. The Age newspaper [Electronic version].Google Scholar
  37. Hovell, M. F., Blumberg, S. L., Powell, L., Morrison, T. C., Duran, G., Sipan, C. L., et al. (2001). Training AIDS and anger prevention social skills in at-risk adolescents. Journal of Counselling and Development, 79, 347–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Howells, K., & Day, A. (2003). Readiness for anger management: Clinical and theoretical issues. Clinical Psychology Review, 23, 319–337.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Humphrey, N., & Brooks, A. G. (2006). An evaluation of a short-term cognitive-behavioral anger management intervention for pupils at risk of exclusion. Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties, 11(1), 5–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kellner, M. H., & Bry, B. H. (1999). The effects of anger management groups in a day school for emotionally disturbed adolescents. Adolescence, 34(136), 645–651.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Kellner, M. H., Bry, B. H., & Colletti, L. (2002). Teaching anger management skills to students with severe emotional or behavioral disorders. Behavioral Disorders, 27(4), 400–408.Google Scholar
  42. Kellner, M. H., Salvador, D. S., & Bry, B. H. (2001, August). In control: Anger management and the development of prosocial behavior. CA: Poster session presented at the American Psychological Association Annual Conference.Google Scholar
  43. Kim-Cohen, J., Caspi, A., Moffitt, T., Harrington, H., Milne, B., & Poulton, R. (2003). Prior juvenile diagnoses in adults with mental disorder. Archives of General Psychiatry, 60(7), 709–717.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kingery, P. (2000). Zero tolerance: The alternative is education. Washington, DC: Hamilton Fish Institute.Google Scholar
  45. Kleiner, B., Porch, R., and Farris, E. (2002). Public alternative schools and programs for students at risk of education failure: 2000–01 (NCES 2002–2004). National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  46. Lange, C. M., & Sletten, S. J. (2002). Alternative education: A brief history and synthesis. Alexandria: VA. Retrieved May 15, 2009, from, Scholar
  47. Lashley, C., & Boscardin, M.L. (2003). Special education administration at a crossroads: Availability, licensure, and preparation of special education administrators.[Electronic version] (COPSSE Document No. IB-8). FL: University of Florida, Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education.Google Scholar
  48. Lehr, C. A. & Lange, C. M. (2003). Alternative schools and the students they serve: Perceptions of state directors of special education. Policy Research Brief (University of Minnesota: Minneapolis, Institute on Community Integration), 14(1), 1–11.Google Scholar
  49. Lochman, J. E., Barry, T. D., & Pardini, D. A. (2003). Anger control training for aggressive youth. In A. E. Kazdin & J. R. Weisz (Eds.), Evidence-based psychotherapies for children and adolescents (pp. 263–281). NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  50. Lochman, J. E., & Dodge, K. A. (1994). Social cognitive processes of severely violent, moderately aggressive and non-aggressive boys. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 62, 366–374.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Lochman, J. E., & Lampron, L. B. (1986). Situational social problem solving skills and Self-esteem of aggressive and non-aggressive boys. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 14(4), 605–617.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Lochman, J. E., & Wells, K. C. (2002). The coping power program at the middle-school transition: Universal and indicated prevention effects. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 16(4 S), S20–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Lochman, J. E., Whidby, J. M., & Fitzgerald, D. P. (2000). Cognitive behavioral assessment and treatment with aggressive children. In P. C. Kendall (Ed.), Child and adolescent therapy: Cognitive behavioral procedures (pp. 31–87). NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  54. Mager, W., Millich, R., Haris, M. J., & Howard, A. (2005). Intervention groups for adolescents with conduct problems: Is aggregation harmful or harmful? Journal of Abnormal and Child Psychology, 33(3), 349–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Mandel, S. (1991). CB anger control training with aggressive adolescent males in a special education high school (Doctoral dissertation, Temple University, 1992). Dissertation Abstracts International-A, 52/07, 2471.Google Scholar
  56. Mayer, R. (2003). The promise of multimedia learning: using the same instructional design methods across different media. Learning and Instruction, 13(2), 125–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Mayer, M., Lochman, J., & van Acker, R. (2005). Introduction to the special issue: Cognitive-behavioral interventions with students with EBD. Behavioral Disorders, 30(3), 197–212.Google Scholar
  58. McWhirter, B. T., & Page, G. L. (1999). Effects of anger management and goal setting group interventions on state-trait anger and self-efficacy beliefs among high riskGoogle Scholar
  59. Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (1991). Motivational interviewing: Preparing people to change addictive behaviors. NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  60. Munoz, M. (2002). Alternative schools: Providing a safety net in our high schools to cope with at-risk student challenge [Electronic version]. exington: Kentucky State Department of Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED463365)Google Scholar
  61. Murrihy, R., Wheatley, A., Van Kessel, J., Wuthrich, V., Remond, L., Tuqiri, R., Dadds, M., & Kidman, A. (2007, September). Aggression management training for oppositional adolescents in behavioral schools: Pilot trial of a CBT-based intervention. Paper presented at the 42nd Annual Conference of the Australian Psychological Society, Brisbane, Australia.Google Scholar
  62. Novaco, R. (1975). Anger control: The development and evaluation of an experimental treatment. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  63. Olatunji, B. O., & Lohr, J. M. (2004). Non-specific factors and the efficacy of psychosocial treatments for anger. [Electronic version] The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 3(2), 1–26.Google Scholar
  64. Oregon Department of Education. (2007) Oregon revised statutes: Alternative education. Retrieved May 15, 2009, from, Scholar
  65. Petit, J. A. (1998). The effects of an anger management program on aggressive adolescents: A cognitive behavioral approach. (Doctoral dissertation, University of New Orleans, 1998). Dissertation Abstracts International-A, 59/08, 2871.Google Scholar
  66. Place, M., Wilson, J., Martin, E., & Hulsmeier, J. (2000). The frequency of emotional and behavioral disturbance in an EBD school. Child Psychology and Psychiatry Review, 5(2), 76–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Poulin, F., Dishion, T. J., & Burraston, B. (2001). Three-year iatrogenic effects associated with aggregating high-risk adolescents in cognitive-behavioral preventive interventions. Applied Developmental Science, 5(4), 214–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Prochaska, J. O., DiClemente, C. C., & Norcross, J. C. (1992). In search of how people change: Applications to addictive behaviors. American Psychologist, 47, 1102–1114.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Quinn, M. M., & Poirier, J. M. (2006). Study of effective alternative programs: Final grant report. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research.Google Scholar
  70. Quinn, M. M., Poirier, J. M., Faller, S. E., Gable, R. A., & Tonelson, S. W. (2006). An examination of school climate in effective alternative programs. Preventing School Failure, 51(1), 11–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Quinn, M. M., Rutherford, R. B., & Osher, D. M. (1999). Special education in alternative education programs. VA: Eric Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education. [Elecronic version]. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED436054)Google Scholar
  72. Robinson, T. R., Smith, S. W., & Miller, M. D. (2002). Effect of a cognitive behavioral intervention on responses to anger by middle school students with chronic behavior problems. Behavioral Disorders, 27(3), 256–271.Google Scholar
  73. Singh, N. N., Deitz, D. E., Epstein, M. H., & Singh, J. (1991). Social behavior of students who are seriously emotionally disturbed. Behavior Modification, 15(1), 74–94.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Skiba, R. J. (2000). Zero tolerance, zero evidence: An analysis of school disciplinary policy. [Electronic version.] Policy Res. Rep 23. Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana.Google Scholar
  75. Skiba, R. J., & Peterson, R. L. (2000). School discipline at a crossroads: From zero tolerance to early response. Exceptional Children, 66(3), 335–346.Google Scholar
  76. Slabby, R. G., & Guerra, N. G. (1988). Cogntive mediators of aggression in adolescent offenders:1. Assessment. Developmental Psychology, 24(4), 580–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Tobin, T., & Sprague, J. (1999). Alternative education strategies: Reducing violence in school and community. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 8, 177–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Tyler, J. (1997). Nine principal components for developing promising alternative education programs for expelled youth. Washington: U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
  79. U.S. Department of Education. (1998). Twentieth annual report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
  80. U.S. Department of Education. (2002a). No child left behind: Executive summary [Electronic version]. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.Google Scholar
  81. U.S. Department of Education (2002b). A new era: Revitalising special education for children and their families. [Electronic version]. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  82. Unruh, D., Bullis, M., Todis, B., Waintrup, M., & Atkins, T. (2007). Programs and practices for special education students in alternative education settings. National Center on Secondary Education and Transition. Retrieved March 13, 2009, from http//:www.ncset.orgGoogle Scholar
  83. van Acker, R. (2007). Antisocial, aggressive and violent behavior in children and adolescents within alternative education settings: prevention and intervention. Preventing School Failure, 51(2), 5–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Wheatley, A., Murrihy, R., van Kessel, J., Wuthrich, V., Remond, L., Tuqiri, R., et al. (2009). Aggression management training for youth in behavior schools. Youth Studies Australia, 28(1), 29–36.Google Scholar
  85. Wignall, A. (2006). Evaluation of a group CBT early intervention program for adolescents with comorbid depression and behavior problems. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counseling, 16(1), 119–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Wolf, M. M. (1978). Social validity: The case for subjective measurement, or how applied behavior analysis is finding its heart. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 11, 203–214.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Yearwood, D. L., Abdum-Muhaymin, J., & Jordan, P. (2002) Alternative learning programs evaluation: 2000–2001. [Electronic version]. Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.Google Scholar
  88. Zoccolillo, M., Pickles, A., Quinton, D., & Rutter, M. (1992). The outcome of childhood CD: Implications for defining adult personality disorder and CD. Psychological Medicine, 22, 971–986.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer New York 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachael C. Murrihy
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TechnologySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations