The impact of school-based Aggression Replacement Training on emotion regulation and aggressive behaviour : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctorate of Clinical Psychology at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
This research evaluates the effectiveness and implementation of Aggression Replacement Training (ART) with a group of New Zealand (NZ) students aged 13-15 years (n=18). Aggression is a significant problem in NZ schools and despite recent progress with school-wide and individually targeted interventions, there are few evaluations of interventions with these adolescents. Deficient emotion regulation is a major risk factor in youth aggression. Although emotion regulation skills are targeted by many aggression interventions, outcome measures less frequently assess these skills than other social information processing abilities. This thesis links research evidence of the role of emotion in aggression, to the techniques taught in ART, to support the hypothesis that ART improves emotion regulation and reduces aggression. Analyses of the change in mean group scores and individual-level analyses indicate improvements in ART participants’ emotion regulation, anger control and social skills over the course of intervention and follow-up. These analyses also indicate reductions in ART participants’ externalising, problem behaviours and cognitive distortions. These findings support the use of ART as effective in reducing the risk of aggressive behaviour, and as an alternative to exclusionary discipline, in NZ schools. ART appears to be culturally acceptable and may offer a less resource intensive intervention than individual intervention plans.
Keywords: aggression, emotion regulation, adolescence, social information processing, aggression replacement training.