By George B. Haarman, PsyD, LMFT
School Refusal Behavior: Children Who Can’t or Won’t Go to School is a 4-hour online CEU course that breaks down the distinction between truancy and school refusal and examines a number of psychological disorders that may be causing – or comorbid with – school refusal.
Truancy vs. School Refusal
Failure to attend school is a problem that has existed for as long as there have been schools. When the first organized school opened its doors, undoubtedly there was a child who refused to attend. Early literature labeled these children as “truant,” derived from the French word truand, meaning beggar, parasite, lazy person, naughty child, or rogue.
However, in addition to those children who refused to attend school in an antisocial fashion, there was a gradual recognition of a subset of children who were absent from school who did not fit the typical patterns or dynamics of a truant. For this subset of children, school absences were more emotionally-based than oppositional. In an early definition of anxiety-based absenteeism, Broadwin (1932) defined some children as exhibiting a set of school refusal behaviors that “are an attempt to obtain love or escape from real situations to which it is difficult to adjust.” Eventually, this group of children was identified as “school phobic” and their absence from school was identified as “school phobia.”
School refusal is a problem that is stressful for children, for their families, and for school personnel. Failing to attend school has significant long and short-term effects on children’s social, emotional, and educational development. School refusal is often the result of, or associated with, comorbid disorders such as anxiety or depression. Careful assessment, treatment planning, interventions, and management of school refusal are critical to attainment of the goal of a successful return to school as quickly as possible. Interventions may include educational support, cognitive therapy, behavior modification, parent/teacher interventions, and pharmacotherapy.
This course will break down the distinction between truancy and school refusal and will examine a number of psychological disorders that may be causing – or comorbid with – school refusal, including separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, social phobia, panic attacks, major depression, dysthymia, ADHD, and oppositional defiant disorder. Completing the course will assist you in performing a functional analysis of school refusal to determine the motivation and particular reinforcement systems that support the behavior. Specific intervention strategies will be reviewed, with a focus on tailoring and adapting standard approaches to specific situations. Participants will be given the opportunity to review several case studies and develop a sample intervention plan for cases of school refusal. Course #40-29 | 2011 | 49 pages | 30 posttest questions
Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by theTexas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.