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Developmental therapy in the classroom: methods for teaching students with social, emotional, or behavioral handicaps.

Developmental Therapy in the Classroom: Methods for Teaching Students with Social, Emotional, or Behavioral Handicaps (Second Edition) Developmental Therapy is a psychoeducational approach to educating emotionally and behaviorally disordered children, which was developed by Dr. Mary M. Wood and her associates at the Rutland Psychoeducational Center in Athens, Georgia. The approach emphasizes the teaching of skills for normal social and emotional behavior by focusing on the developmental milestones that all children face. These milestones are ordered, sequential stages through which all children pass in the development of thinking, feeling, and behaving. According to the theory of developmental therapy something has gone awry in the passage of emotionally or behaviorally handicapped children through these stages. It is the task of the educator, through the use of the highly positive and sequentially structured developmental therapy approach, to rehabilitate these children. Developmental therapy uses a therapeutic curriculum with developmental objectives as guidelines for treatment.

The developmental curriculum consists of four areas: behavior, communication, socialization, and academics. The teacher, by using the Developmental Therapy Objectives Rating Form (DTORF), locates the child's stage of development in each of the four areas. Students are grouped in accordance with their particular stage of development. Educational activities, materials, behavior management strategies, and individual education plan goals are formulated in accordance with the social-emotional level. The developmental therapy program, therefore, is conducted differently at each of the five stages of development. Students in the first stage of development (the most severely handicapped are characterized by distorted fears and extreme disorganization. The goal of the developmental therapist with children in this stage is to teach them to respond to the environment with pleasure, to trust in themselves and others. stage two students respond to the environment, but with little success. They have low self-confidence and self-esteem. They have a limited awareness of cause and effect, and act out impulsively toward adults. The goal of the program for children in this stage is to teach them individual skills that will enable them to be successful.

Stage three students are characterized by an awareness of others; they also exhibit more acceptable and more outrageous behavior than students at any other stage. They view others from a self-oriented perspective. The experiences provided to the stage three students teach them the skills necessary for successful group participation. Students in the fourth stage of development have an increased awareness of self and have learned to understand other's points of view. They vacillate between extremes and often revert to old strategies of self-protection. The developmental therapy goal for stage four students is to teach them to value the group as a source for individual achievement, acclaim, and pleasure. Students in stage five usually do not need special education. Instead, counseling and guidance are needed. Many troubled adolescents are functioning at this stage. The developmental therapy goal is to enable the student to apply individual and group skills successfully in new situations.

Developmental Therapy in the Classroom concerns the translation of developmental therapy to the classroom. It is a methods text for teaching students with social, emotional, or behavioral handicaps. The book is divided into three parts: an introductory section (chapters 1 and 2), a section on the essential ingredients (chapters 3 through 7), and a section on putting the theories of developmental therapy into practice (chapters 8 through 12). The final chapters provide specific information, including goals and objectives of the program, the teacher's role, and daily schedule, for conducting the program in each of the five stages of development. Three appendices contain forms necessary for the teacher using developmental therapy (e.g., DTORF).

All chapters begin with a brief introduction and a series of questions which the chapter is intended to answer. All chapters end with commentary on four case studies which were presented at the beginning of the book. Commentary is in accordance with the material presented in the chapter. This material is intended to give the reader practice thinking in a developmental therapy frame of reference. A list of references for further reading is also included at the end of each chapter.

Developmental Therapy is a psychoeducational approach to the education/treatment of socially, emotionally, and behaviorally handicapped students. It has been an influential approach and has been implemented in a wide range of settings. The book is an indispensable guide for educators who choose to use the developmental approach. Dr. Wood's volume is well organized, lucidly presented, and very readable.

The problems with the book are the same problems which plague the very concept of developmental therapy, that is, the paucity of empirical research on the model. There is little, if any, solid evidence supporting the existence of these invariant developmental stages through which all children pass. There also appears to be a lack of empirical evidence regarding the effectiveness of the developmental therapy approach. These issues pose serious problems for the approach and must be addressed.

This book is most appropriate for administrators and teachers intending to use the developmental therapy model in their school and classrooms. It is also appropriate for teacher training programs which focus on this orientation. However, its specialized nature renders it less appropriate for use as a general introductory text to the education of emotionally disturbed students.

Mary M. Wood with Carolyn Combs, Andrea Gunn, Diane Weller. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed, 1986. $19.00
COPYRIGHT 1988 Council for Exceptional Children
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Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Yell, Mitchell
Publication:Exceptional Children
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 1988
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