Houlihan, T.M. (2013). The Incredible Years ‘Dinosaur school’ programme: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of children’s experiences (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Limerick, Ireland.
The Incredible Years (IY) programme is an evidence-based preventative and early intervention programme designed to reduce behavioural problems and promote social and emotional competencies in children. There is a vast research base pertaining to the efficacy and effectiveness of the training programmes within IY, which are targeted at parents, teachers, and children. Nonetheless the majority of this research is quantitative in nature. Despite several qualitative studies outlining the experiences of parents and teachers following their involvement in the programme, there is a dearth of research exploring children’s experiences of IY programmes. The aim of the present qualitative study is to explore children’s experiences of the Dina Dinosaur (small group therapy) IY programme (DS), in a regeneration area of Limerick. The researcher interviewed 13 children (3 males, 10 females; aged 6-8 years), who had completed DS, using a semi-structured interview format and various methods of engagement. The interview transcripts were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), as the researcher wished to understand how participants made sense of their experience of DS. Master themes emerging from the data centred on nurturing relationships; sense of security; secure environment; opportunity for calmness and self-reflection; play as a therapeutic medium; and empowerment for self-regulation. The findings are discussed in the context of the research evidence-base; and implications for clinical practice, future research; and policy, service development, and education, are outlined.