Tai Wātea/Waves of Freedom : an evaluation of a surf therapy programme for high-risk males residing in New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Health Science in Psychology at Massey University, New Zealand
In recent years, surf therapy has been successfully utilised with several vulnerable populations who may not respond well to conventional therapeutic interventions, including veterans, children with physical and cognitive challenges, and marginalised young people. The Tai Wātea surf therapy programme, provided in Tauranga, New Zealand aims to improve the psychosocial functioning of disengaged, high-risk young men between ages 16 to 24. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Tai Wātea programme at achieving this objective over the span of one year. A single-group pre-test post-test research design, with repeated measures and replication was utilised. Twenty-seven study participants were recruited over four programme intakes, between August 2018 and August 2019. The Youth Outcome Questionnaire Self-Report (Y-OQ-SR) was administered at pre-intervention, intervention and post-intervention time intervals in order to evaluate changes in functioning over time. The Y-OQ-SR's clinical cut-off scores and Reliable Change Index were employed to assess the clinical and statistical significance of outcomes pertaining to each individual, and effect size measures were utilised in order to estimate the magnitude of the over-all programme effect on various areas of functioning. Outcomes were presented on modified Brinley plots. Regarding over-all psychosocial functioning, results indicated that, following the intervention, 25 out of 27 participants demonstrated statistically significant improvement, 20 of which also demonstrated clinically significant improvement. Effect size measures also revealed a large treatment effect (dav = -2.00; RCI+% = 92%; CLES = 97%). Specific areas of functioning in which significant improvements were observed included intrapersonal functioning (dav = -1.7; RCI+% = 77%; CLES = 95%), interpersonal functioning (dav = -1.7; RCI+% = 70%; CLES = 70%), social functioning (dav = -1.5; RCI+ % = 48%; CLES = 90%), behavioural functioning (dav = -1.4; RCI+% = 33%; CLES = 89%), and clinical functioning (dav = -1.3; RCI+% = 37%; CLES = 89%). These findings indicate that the Tai Wātea surf therapy programme is a highly promising and valuable therapeutic avenue for improving the psychosocial functioning of disengaged, high-risk young males residing in New Zealand.