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Analyzing PTSD and Building a Network of Resources to Alleviate Psychological Trauma in NICU Families

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Posttraumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric disorder that can develop after exposure to a traumatic event, and it can cause affected individuals to relive the associated event through flashbacks or nightmares. This project centers around the prevalence of PTSD in

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a psychiatric disorder that can develop after exposure to a traumatic event, and it can cause affected individuals to relive the associated event through flashbacks or nightmares. This project centers around the prevalence of PTSD in parents of infants admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit. Past research has shown that these parents are at increased risk of developing traumatic stress symptoms, with affliction rates as high as 53% in mothers and 33% in fathers (Hua et al., 2018). With this statistic as a catalyst, the present text has a variety of aims, all hinging on the goal of easing the NICU journey for parents. This thesis explores the different types of therapy used in the treatment of traumatic stress, with a focus on trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) as these were shown to be the most effective in past research. A compilation of resources was also gathered that can now be distributed to NICU parents, including information on PTSD, how to access a therapist, and other helpful articles. An additional component of this project included the administration of a survey to NICU parents to gain a better understanding of their stress levels, what resources were most helpful to them, what barriers limited their ability to seek help, and their thoughts on a text-messaging resource service. Institutional IRB approval was received for this survey. The survey indicated that parents were very stressed when admitted to the NICU, but their stress levels tend to decrease over time. Parents also faced a variety of barriers, with the need to return to work or maintain a busy schedule being the most pervasive. Additionally, an analysis was completed on federal legislation relating to healthcare and the NICU experience. Furthermore, special considerations for limited English proficient (LEP) families were also considered. The paper concludes with steps that should be taken, in both research and action, to improve on the NICU experience for at-risk parents. The implementation of a text-messaging resource service for NICU parents was desired by survey respondents and is a recommended next step. Changes in policy surrounding insurance reform and longer, paid family leave would also be beneficial. Training of NICU staff on how to provide resources and communicate sensitively and effectively with parents is also crucial if the current situation is to be improved. There are definitive steps that should be taken immediately to ease the journey and provide comfort for NICU parents.

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2020-05

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Free play: through the eyes of a child and early childhood professional

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Via my personal, academic and professional journey, I closely examine my career growth and how my perspectives on early childhood environments developed in reference to free play. Using a narrative format, I share personal experiences that have shaped my

Via my personal, academic and professional journey, I closely examine my career growth and how my perspectives on early childhood environments developed in reference to free play. Using a narrative format, I share personal experiences that have shaped my views on free play. Free play is a type of play that features choices, freedom of selection, cognitive and social development, and child interest. I review relevant literature and weave in my personal and professional experiences in order to reflect on free play from two different perspectives: participant (child), and the Early Childhood Professional (teacher and/or administrator). I also demonstrate how my professional and academic milestones have contributed to my developing beliefs and ideas put into practice about free play in early childhood environments.

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Date Created
2011

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Equine Assisted Learning: An Evidence-Based Intervention for Families

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Background: It is estimated that 50% of all mental illness arises prior to age 14, an incident attributed in part to disruptions and imbalances within the family system. Equine assisted learning is a complementary and alternative approach to family therapy

Background: It is estimated that 50% of all mental illness arises prior to age 14, an incident attributed in part to disruptions and imbalances within the family system. Equine assisted learning is a complementary and alternative approach to family therapy which is being used increasingly to promote mental health in both adults and children. This study sought to build and deliver an evidence-based, family-centered equine assisted learning program aimed at promoting family function, family satisfaction and child social-emotional competence, and to measure its acceptability and preliminary effect.

Method: Twenty families with children 10 years and older were recruited to participate in a 3-week equine assisted learning program at a therapeutic riding center in Phoenix, Arizona. Sessions included groundwork activities with horses used to promote life skills using experiential learning theory. The study design included a mixed-method quasi-experimental one-group pretest posttest design using the following mental health instruments: Devereaux Student Strengths Assessment, Brief Family Assessment Measure (3 dimensions), and Family Satisfaction Scale to measure child social-emotional competence, family function, and family satisfaction, respectively. Acceptability was determined using a Likert-type questionnaire with open-ended questions to gain a qualitative thematic perspective of the experience.

Results: Preliminary pretest and posttest comparisons were statistically significant for improvements in family satisfaction (p = 0.001, M = -5.84, SD = 5.63), all three domains of family function (General Scale: p = 0.005, M = 6.84, SD = 9.20; Self-Rating Scale: p = 0.050, M = 6.53, SD = 12.89; and Dyadic Relationship Scale: p = 0.028, M = 3.47, SD = 7.18), and child social-emotional competence (p = 0.015, M = -4.05, SD 5.95). Effect sizes were moderate to large (d > 0.5) for all but one instrument (Self-Rating Scale), suggesting a considerable magnitude of change over the three-week period. The intervention was highly accepted among both children and adults. Themes of proximity, self-discovery, and regard for others emerged during evaluation of qualitative findings. Longitudinal comparisons of baseline and 3-month follow-up remain in-progress, a topic available for future discussion.

Discussion: Results help to validate equine assisted learning as a valuable tool in the promotion of child social-emotional intelligence strengthened in part by the promotion of family function and family satisfaction. For mental health professionals, these results serve as a reminder of the alternatives that are available, as well as the importance of partnerships within the community. For therapeutic riding centers, these results help equine professionals validate their programs and gain a foothold within the scientific community. Additionally, they invite future riding centers to follow course in incorporating evidence into their programs and examining new directions for growth within the mental health community.

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2019-05-02