Behavioural parent training
: The development of a high intensity programme for the treatment of moderate/severe child conduct problems

  • Dermot O'Reilly

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The impulse to develop an effective method of intervention for conduct disorder arose through practice experience. As a social worker based in a special school for children with severe emotional and behavioural problems between 1986 and 1995, I had responsibility for working with the child in the famiIy context. My clinical impression was that behavioural gains in the school setting were not transferred to the home setting, where parents of conduct-problem children reported that they continued to find the child’s behaviour unmanageable. This was confirmed by Fitzgerald, Butler, and Kinsella (1990) who found that parents having a child who was placed in a special school reported with frustration that they were not taught how to manage their child in the home setting. I shared their frustration, because it was evident that these children were usually manageable in the school setting. Generic social work training and post-qualifying training in family therapy did not however, provide the means to intervene effectively with the child’s behaviour in the home setting.

I hope that this research will encourage the introduction of behavioural social work practice in Ireland, and that by doing so, it will broaden the practice options which are currently available to social workers. I also hope that the introduction of behavioural methods will lead, not to further paradigm wars, but to the necessary respect for diversity which emerges when social work is considered in a European context: The diversity of social work approaches which, despite all efforts at international harmonisation has not been levelled to one standard norm, might turn out to be one of the professions greatest assets in facing up to the diversity of the newly emerging welfare scenario. (Lorenz, 1994, p. 181)

Date of Award2000
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorKarola Dillenburger (Supervisor)

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