Students identified in schools as emotionally disturbed often suffer from a number of complex social, emotional, and neurocognitive issues that lead to academic difficulties, problems establishing and maintaining peer relationships, and overall unsuccessful adaptive functioning. Students with emotional disturbances are often labelled by teachers and other students as disruptive or bad due to the high level of intervention required by school officials due to the interference these issues can cause with the teaching and learning process. Unfortunately, emotionally disturbed children remain an underserved population within most school settings (Reddy & Newman, 2009). However, even when programming is implemented for this group of students it is often fraught with many challenges.
Reddy and Newman (2009) offer a tri-part model to help conceptualize the common barriers to program design, implementation, and evaluation of interventions for students with emotional disturbances. The first dimension in the model addresses the complex externalizing behaviours that teachers and parents observe in relation to the student’s school and family functioning. This dimension encompasses child/family-focused barriers. For students with emotional disturbances, externalizing behaviours are the expressions of many internal issues such as neurocognitive deficits or emotional regulation deficits. These outward behaviours are often so severe that parents and teachers are consumed with the management of the external behaviours that internal problems go undiagnosed. This confluence of internal and external issues presents many challenges to assessment and intervention planning. Additionally, school personnel attempting to implement interventions for emotionally disturbed students face the added challenge that many students from this population come from families with high rates of psychopathology, have ineffective parenting skills, and limited supports (Reddy & Newman, 2009).
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA