Positive psychology intervention for girls with conduct problems: a single-case time-series design

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University of Alabama Libraries

Background: Juvenile offenders with psychopathic traits are more likely to have problems in institutional settings and commit more violent and damaging offenses following release, as well as be faced with problems (e.g., lost educational opportunities, drug use) that impede their functioning as young adults. There has been a paucity of interventions focusing on treating youth offenders with psychopathic traits. The Positive Psychology Intervention (PPI; Salekin, 2010) was designed to fulfil this purpose. The current study aimed to examine the effectiveness of PPI in reducing psychopathic traits in a sample of female juvenile offenders. Method: The participants were eight 15-18-year-old adolescent girls with conduct problems placed in a secure residential facility. The PPI was implemented and outcome measures were assessed pre and post-intervention, as well as weekly during the baseline and treatment phases. Group effects and single-case data were examined. Results: As predicted, there was a group reduction in psychopathic traits and increase in positive affect post-intervention. Examining the single-case data found that the PPI demonstrated significant effects for participants with certain characteristics (e.g., having stayed longer in the facility). Conclusions: The PPI appears promising in reducing psychopathic traits and enhancing positive affect in this sample of adolescent girls with conduct problems. The effects for the single case data were not as strong as that of the group level findings. Potential methodological reasons for this are discussed. In addition, ways to adapt sessions of the PPI to further enhance the effectiveness of treatment for adolescent girls with psychopathic traits are outlined. Keywords: psychopathy, positive affect, intervention, adolescence

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Clinical psychology