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EFFECT OF INDIVIDUAL AND GROUP COUNSELLING ON THE ADJUSTMENT OF SOCIAL ISOLATES

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the Study

Human beings by nature have a need for group life or social contact. Indeed, there are certain goals or projects that require efforts of others to achieve, and because humans need social and psychological support from their fellows in certain conditions, they naturally tend towards the formation of themselves into social group. As a social animal, man maximizes his potentials and reaches his full capacity in development only in the context of association with others (Igbo, 2003). Social isolation, on the contrary, tends to stifle human development and leads to physical, mental, and emotional retardation.

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Social isolation is the act of withdrawing from society in general (Adams, 2007). In such situation, there is usually not much interaction with other people; illness and phobias are major factors in social isolates. According to Ifelunni (1997), an isolate is the individual who is psychologically distant from other members of the class or group. He may have an inferiority complex and because of that people disregard him. However, this individual makes some choices, that is, he is ready to associate with others but no person is ready to associate with him. It is a pitiable situation and the alert teacher or counsellor should be aware of this.

Isolate behaviour is a social phenomenon that has a number of important implications for students as well as institutions. Isolate behaviour, according to Nwoye (2007) is a form of social problem where an individual continually distant himself from a given social group of which he ordinarily belongs. Such a group could be an institution, peer group or academic.  Therefore, a social isolate is that individual who distances himself from society as a result of psychological problem such as inferiority complex, anxiety, panic attacks, among others. Social isolation can contribute towards many emotional, behavioural and physical disorder including: heightened anxiety, panic attacks, eating disorders, addictions, substance abuse, violent behaviour. This affects the physical and social needs of children.

The physical and social needs at birth and at later stages of development have far reaching effects upon individuals in their later lives (Chidume 2003). These needs sometimes create a stage of restlessness or tension in the individual and are only reduced when an appropriate satisfier is reached. According to Blair (2006), defects, such as poor eyesight, defective hearing, diseased teeth, defective speech organs and other physical deformities can greatly influence the learning adjustment of school children. The child who possesses some physical defect or disease is frequently affected by the psychological consequences of his physical

 

condition, and such a child might be rejected by his playmates and as a result of his rejection, the child might withdraw or isolate himself from

associating with  other children and consequently fail to learn the social skills necessary for later adjustment.

Adjustment is a renewal to emphasize the individuals struggle to get along or survive in his or her environment (Nweze 2001). According to Maslow and Mittleman (2001), the adjustment of a person is the characteristic way in which the individual involved perceives, reacts to, and solves the main problems of life. In other words, the essential characteristic of the concept of adjustment is that, it is the solution of problems. Adjustment in the context of this study is the application of the essential skills to triumph over life contingencies. This involves how people live a healthy and emotionally balanced lifestyle. It also involves how people relate well with the demands of the individuals to strive to satisfy their personal needs as well as deal with the demands and constrains that are placed on them by their environment such as the school. The school has a lot of impact on the adjustment behaviour pattern of the students. Thus, no learning can take place without proper adjustment. School adjustment therefore, refers to the ability of students to cope effectively with the internal and external demands of school environment. Such internal and external demands includes; obeying rules and regulations, neatness, punctuality, taking instructions, participating in all school activities both curricular and extra-curricular activities including contacts and acceptance from others.

Children need acceptance by their age mates and by adults. Children need to feel important and to have their accomplishment admired by others, and children need to feel that they are part of a group, that is, they need to have a sense of belonging (Igbo 2003). Clearly, an overwhelming account of a child’s total school experience involves social contacts with other pupils – contact that produces many kinds of social learning and many diverse influences on his developing personality and adjustment. Adverse social influences manifest themselves in social failure, unhappiness and maladjustment (Igbo 2003).  This could lead to poor performance.

Personal and research experiences indicate evidence of poor performance and maladjustment occasioned by social isolation among secondary school students in Nsukka. The result of the pilot study conducted by Eze (1999) indicates that the major reason junior secondary school students in Nsukka zone are socially isolated by their peers is because of inferiority complex. The isolation of a child by his peers during his junior secondary school years may influence the child’s participation in school activities and this in turn may influence his overall performance in school and his later life performance. Many children in Nigeria who are isolated by their peers at the early stage in life may become frustrated, develop inferiority complex and consequently lose self-confidence. The cost of this on the nation’s social and economic stability cannot be overlooked. As a result of these, there is the need for individual and group counselling in Nigerian schools, especially at the junior secondary school level. To do this, social isolates must be identified and counseled for positive adjustment.  Counselling is therefore important to help them to explore their abilities, skills, interests, as well as their limitations. This is necessary to make them develop self confidence and be acceptable to their peers.

The major cause of student’s difficulties in social learning is lack of social acceptance (Gronlund and Anderson (2000); Finberget (2002) and Goertzen (2006). The researchers found that children of low social acceptance tend to lack desirable and positive personality traits whereas children with high social acceptance among peers tend to exhibit desirable and positive personality traits. Moreover, children who are not socially accepted by their peers tend to display such undesirable characteristics as showing off, attention seeking, nervousness, emotional instability and restlessness. They also show less favourable teacher ratings, more resentment toward   group control, and lack of self-control. It is possible that the undesirable characteristics of the non-socially accepted are partially the cause of lack of social acceptance. It is also likely that a lack of social acceptance helps to produce much of the  unacceptable behaviour. This strongly suggests that one important role of the teacher and the counsellor is to break into the vicious cycle where lack of acceptance by peers helps to produce unacceptable behaviour and unacceptable behaviour tends to generate lack of peer acceptance.

However, inappropriate behaviour can be minimized or extinguished through behaviour intervention or modification. Different types, of behaviour modification techniques like psychodrama, role therapy, relaxation training, aversive therapy, reinforcement, systematic desensitization have been used for intervention on maladaptive behaviour among school children (Nickarson, 2002).  Chidume (2003) have also suggested that psychological principles and the experiences of counsellors and those who have worked  with social isolates support the following techniques  for helping rejected and isolated children achieve a place in the class group. These techniques include, finding special skills, training in skills, (already acquired), discussion, using peer helpers and group guidance. Besides, all the  techniques are used within  the two broad counselling approaches, namely, individual and group counseling, hence the researcher has elected to investigate the relative effect of the two on the adjustment of social isolate. This perhaps, becomes more expedient bearing in mind that the area of social isolates adjustment appears somewhat neglected.

Individual and group counselling  are  indispensable in the helping profession. This is because, a client can move in any direction of the counselling process to seek help. That means that a client in group counselling can seek individual counselling to enable him solve a particular problem; and an individual in individual counselling can receive solution to his problem by joining the group counselling. Moreover, individual counselling can be a first step in group counselling whereby individuals are identified for group work and where on the other hand, individuals who are unable to function in the group process can be identified for individual counselling. More importantly, the problem of the isolate and by implication solution cannot be perfectly understood and sought in the absence of individual counselling (to get to the root of his problem) and group counselling to play out outrightly the deficiencies in his interactions.

Individual counselling is a one-to-one relationship between the client and the counsellor geared towards assisting the client not only to get his problems solved but also to learn how to solve similar problems himself (Okeke 2002). To effectively carry out this function, the counselling exercise should take place in a private office that is devoid of noise. According to Anagbogu (2005), individual counselling is a way of offering opportunities to individuals in such a way that a one-to-one relationship will occur. In such relationships, the counsellor would accept and tolerate the client/student in a way that the counsellor would be free from advising or judging the individual.

Individual counselling in the context of this study therefore, is one-on-one interactions between a counsellor and client with the sole aim of assisting the client to solve his/her problem. Individual counselling is highly specialized. Individual counselling affords the counsellor the opportunity to provide counselling relationship capable of changing personality growth. The idea is to help the client to recognize his own needs and values, to see how these affect the personal goal and arrange them in order of priority, to discover the possible courses of action which may bring him closer to the goals he seeks.

However, just as individual counselling can be carried  on a one-to-one basis, group counselling is used with more than one client at a time. According to Okobiah and Okorodudu (2006:184-185), group counselling is a counselling mode involving a counsellor and four to ten clients. There is no agreement as to the maximum number of clients likewise the minimum number. However, because of the nature of professional counselling involved in large number of client more than ten will be too unwieldy for the counsellor and the clients. A safer maximum limit may be eight  while for effective interaction of the group a minimum of four clients is appropriate. Emphasis on group counseling is on the sharing and remediating of problems through group participation.

Group counselling is the mode of counselling organized for a group of students to help them prevent or solve problems in the educational, vocational, personal and social areas (Okeke, 2002). Unlike individual counselling, group counselling takes about minimum of 15 and maximum of 20 or more persons, (Okeke, 2002). According to Anagbogu (2005), group guidance refers to a process of interaction that occurs in a large group that facilitates development of healthy attitudes and behaviour in a way that individuals who participate in it gain new information, new orientation to problem, such as vocational, occupational, academic and social problems.

Group counselling therefore, is made up of “normal” individuals with varying concerns who are given all understanding, care, respect and support to help them either to learn or unlearn certain attitudes and behaviours. Group counselling in the context of this study therefore refers to a process of interaction that occurs in a large group that facilitates development of healthy attitudes and behaviour in a way that individuals who participate in it gain new information, new orientation to problem such as vocational, academic or social problems.

However, certain variables like gender and location have been found to moderate certain treatment outcomes on students maladaptive behaviour. For instance, Lewis (2000) used models with elementary pupils who were social isolates, and found that behavioural group counselling was effective with those pupils who are socially isolated. Warner (2001) also demonstrated the effectiveness of positive-reinforcement and group counselling on discrepant students in urban, suburban and rural areas and found that the techniques were effective in handling discrepant students. Based on this, let us look at the concept of gender and school location and relate it to the subject of study and see how it influence treatment outcomes on the social isolates.

Gender is the condition of being masculine or feminine through one’s behaviour. Gender is a set of characteristic distinguishing between male and female, particularly in the cases of men and women (Guinand and Lemessa, 2000). Gender is determined by the conception of tasks, functions and roles attributed to women and men in society and in public and private life (Gawater 2011). In the present study, gender means socially defined roles for men and women in a society.

School location refers to the place where a school is sited. It is called the geographic location of the school (Jones, 2002). Some secondary schools in Enugu state are located in urban area while some are located in the rural areas. Here, urban area means township or metropolitan part of Nsukka Education zone. Rural area here means local area or an underdeveloped part of Nsukka Education zone.

It is against this background that the present study sought to investigate the effect of individual and group counselling on the adjustment of social isolates in Nsukka area of Enugu state of Nigeria.

 

Statement of the Problem

The isolation of a child by his peers during his junior secondary school years may influence the child’s participation in school activities and this in turn may influence his overall performance in school and his performance later in life. In addition, many children who are isolated by their peers at this early stage in life may become frustrated, develop inferiority complex and consequently lose self-confidence. This of course, could cost untold destruction in the academic life of the child and by implication the educational development of the nation.  There is high incidence of social isolation among students in Nsukka.

It is possible that such maladaptive behaviours like inferiority complex, frustration, loss of self-confidence among others  can be  positively modified and/or adjusted through a number of ways. These ways may include, role playing, group counselling, individual counselling, among others. However, while there are reports of efficacies of role playing, group counselling and individual counselling in other maladaptive areas like shyness, stage fright, little or no information appears to be available in the area of social isolation. Social isolation is a nagging problem that impairs with students social skill as a result of inability to adjust properly and hence must be reduced. Using the efficacies of individual and group counselling in solving other maladaptive behaviours, would such counselling approaches be effective  in adjustment of social  isolates in Nsukka education zone? It is against this background that the  study sough to investigate the effect of individual and group counselling on the adjustment of social isolates in Nsukka education zone of Enugu state.

 

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of individual and group counselling on the adjustment of social isolates among junior secondary school students in Nsukka Education zone. Specifically, the study sought to;

  • Determine the effect of individual and group counselling on adjustment of social isolates in schools.
  • Determine the influence of gender on the treatment outcomes of social isolates.
  • Determine the influence of location on the treatment outcomes of social isolates.
  • Ascertain the interaction effect of treatment and gender on the adjustment of social isolates.
  • Determine the interaction effect of treatment and location on the adjustment of social isolates.

 

Significance of the Study

The findings of this study is of great significance to Educational Psychologists, Government/Policy makers, Curriculum Planners, Adolescents, Parents, Teachers, Counsellors and the Society in general.

The theoretical assertion by some of the theories on which this study anchored such as social affiliation theory that posits that a discrepancy between  attitudes or behaviours and one’s reference group is likely to lead to a change in one’s own position so that he moves closer to the group norm has suggested the relevance of this theory to the subject under study. The tenets of  psychological adjustment theory that when individuals have not found their relationship with others to be rewarding, they may learn to withdraw from others and pay less attention to social lives which have also been proved right. Besides, Behavioural Counselling Approach posits that counsellors and psychologists help clients to learn desirable change in some behaviours of theirs because learning is not merely in changing an undesirable behaviour to a desirable one but in learning to solve one’s own problem. This also has been tested and proved by the findings of this study to be true hence furthering the application of these theories to solving behaviour problem. It is shown by the results of this study which indicated the effects of treatment using individual and group counselling techniques on the student isolates through a significant adjustment in their isolate behaviour. The findings of this study are of great benefit to social and educational psychologists because they have confirmed the authenticity of these theories to motivate students to learn and adopt desired healthy and rational behaviour. Thus, this study is significant because they have contributed additional empirical knowledge in using individual and group counselling training techniques in adjusting and/or modifying isolate behaviour among students using subjects drawn from secondary schools in two schools in Nsukka Education zone of Enugu State.

To Government/Policy makers (Ministry of Education, State Education Commission, Enugu State Universal Basic Education Board), the findings of this study shall arouse them to organize workshops, seminars and conferences for counsellors and teacher counsellors. These workshops and seminars could be designed to provide counsellors with adequate knowledge that would enable them to effectively counsel and train students with maladaptive behaviour using the two techniques employed in this work.

Curriculum planners based on the findings of this study can now modify secondary school curriculum to incorporate  individual and group counselling training techniques to solve students maladaptive behaviour which is rampant among secondary school students.

The findings of this study when published will enable adolescents to be armed with skills that will enable them to avoid being shy, loss of self confidence, frustration and associate with their mates freely. They will be enabled to differentiate between positive and negative forms of behaviour because often times, the adolescents exhibit these behaviours spontaneously and do not know that these behaviour are aberrant to the society. When such is obtained it will enable them to enjoy cordial and loving interpersonal relationship and improved academic performance.

The study is significant to parents because it will provide information on factors that constitute social isolate. The identification of children that manifest such behaviour will enable parents work towards early prevention and management. The findings will also enable parents to be aware of the dangers and ripple effects of shielding their isolate children, but rather help them to get assistance from the school guidance counsellors, instead of labelling their situation as hopeless and themselves failure.

The study is significant to teachers in that it will enable them to understand that applying individual and group counselling will help solve the problem of isolate student and as such, enable teachers to make referral cases to the guidance counsellors who are trained to handle students and their problems. The findings of this study when published will be of much significance to guidance counsellors because they will be exposed through documented evidence to behaviour modification techniques especially in the two techniques of this study thereby adding to their existing wealth of knowledge.

The findings of this study when documented and published will be of immense benefit to the society at large. The Youths are the future leaders; when they learn adaptive ways of reacting to experiences in their environment and become self-confident, the society will become sanitized and free from most anti-social activities of the youths thereby improving the economic, social and moral tone of the society which will result in an increase in the numbers of  happier and more productive citizens.

 

Finally, the findings of this study when documented and published will add to the stock of existing knowledge in the area of isolate management which will be disseminated through workshops, learned journals, conferences and internet postings.

 

Scope of the Study

This study focused on the effects of individual and group counselling on the adjustment of social isolates using only junior secondary school students in Enugu state. In addition, gender and location as  variables in the treatment were explored to establish their influence on treatment. The independent variables are the two behavioural modification techniques namely; Individual Counselling (IC) and Group Counselling (GC) while the dependent variable is the social isolates behaviour among students.

 

 

Research Questions

          The following five research questions  guided the study:

  • What is the mean adjustment scores of social isolates exposed to different treatment groups?
  • What is the influence of gender on the treatment outcomes of social isolates?
  • What is the influence of location on the treatment outcomes of social isolates?
  • What is the interaction effect of treatment and gender on the mean adjustment scores of social isolates?
  • What is the interaction effect of treatment and location on the mean adjustment scores of social isolates?

 

Hypotheses

The following five null hypotheses were formulated to guide the study and tested at P<0.05 levels of significance.

  • There is no significant difference between the mean adjustment scores of social isolates exposed to different treatment groups as measured by their response on the social isolate adjustment scale.
  • There is no significant difference in the mean adjustment of male and female social isolates exposed to treatment as measured by their scores on social isolate adjustment scale.
  • There is no significant difference in the mean adjustment scores of urban and rural social isolates exposed to treatment as measured by their scores on social isolate adjustment scale.
  • There is no significant interaction effect of treatment and gender on the mean adjustment scores of social isolates as measured by their scores on social isolate  adjustment scale.
  • There is no significant interaction effect of treatment and location on the mean adjustment scores of social isolates as measured by their responses on social isolate adjustment scale.
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