Examination of an Attachment Training for Mentoring Effectiveness
Type of Degreedissertation
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Youth mentoring can be defined as a unique relationship between an adult and child or adolescent that is characterized by mutual respect, reciprocity, transmission of knowledge from mentor to mentee, and social-emotional support (DuBois & Karcher, 2005; Eby, Rhodes, & Allen, 2000). The goals of mentoring are to “increase desirable behavior, decrease undesirable behavior” (Eby, Allen, Evans, Ng, & DuBois, 2008, p.256), and foster growth and development for the mentee (Keller, 2007). These goals are accomplished by the mentors building trust, providing understanding, and creating relationship reciprocity (Zeldin, Larson, Camino, & O’Connor, 2005). In this manner, the mentoring relationship appears to be the process by which change occurs. Currently, very little research focuses on how to improve mentor-mentee relationships. This project adapted the first phase of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), a program typically used with parents and children to increase warmth and decrease child behavior problems, into a training module designed to help mentors build a supportive relationship with their mentee. PCIT (Eyberg, 1988) is a behaviorally-based intervention for children with disruptive behavior disorders. The first phase of PCIT helps parents and children to build a warm, stable relationship by using principles from attachment theory (Bell & Eyberg, 2002). Research has suggested that a secure parent-child attachment is linked to prosocial development whereas maladaptive attachment is linked to increased aggressive child behavior (Querido, Bearss, & Eyberg, 2002). The purpose of the project was to apply the principles from the PCIT Child Directed Interaction (CDI) teach session to help mentors build a warm relationship with their mentees and thereby increase the effectiveness of a local mentoring program, Project Uplift. The objectives of the project were to develop a mentor training module based on the PCIT CDI Teach session and evaluate the effectiveness of this attachment training based on child and mentor reports of relationship quality and parent report of child behavioral and social outcomes. Thirty-seven mentee-mentor dyads and 18 teachers participated in this study. Mentors were randomly assigned to receive either the attachment training based on the CDI Teach session or a general communication training. Mentors completed measures of relationship quality at pre-intervention and post-intervention. Mentees also completed measures of relationship quality as well as a measure that assessed mentors’ use of PRIDE skills at pre-intervention and post-intervention. Parents and teachers completed the BASC-2 to report child behavior at pre-intervention and post-intervention. Post-intervention measures were given 9 months after the pre-intervention assessment. The results indicated that although there were no differences in use of the PRIDE skills based on group assignment, there was a stronger association between mentee report of PRIDE skills and relationship quality (as reported by the mentees) for mentors in the attachment group suggesting that the attachment training helped to facilitate a good relationship. It was also expected that there would be differences in relationship quality based on the type of training and over time. Based on the mentee’s report of relationship quality, this hypothesis was not supported. However, an examination of the mean scores for relationship quality showed that mentees reported a positive relationship at pre-intervention and the positive quality remained throughout the dyad relationship to post-intervention. Mentors did report a significant change in relationship quality over time, but there were no differences based on group assignment. Although mentoring relationships were positive, the expected changes in child behavior were not observed. There were no differences based on group assignment or across time for most behavioral areas. The only significant change in child outcomes was for Social skills. However, post hoc analysis revealed that there were positive changes from pre-intervention to post-intervention for Externalizing Behaviors, Adaptive Behaviors, Resiliency, and Social Skills scales on the BASC although they did not reach statistical significance. Overall, the results suggest that there were little differences on outcome measures (relationship quality, child behavior) from pre-intervention to post-intervention based on group assignment. However, child behavior remained stable at subclinical levels over time (or slightly improved), social skills increased, and mentees and mentors were satisfied with their relationships. Limitations of this study included a significantly abbreviated training session, lack of an objective measure of mastery of the skills, and low compliance for continued practice activities.