Group Title: experimental treatment program on the amelioration of shyness in children /
Title: An Experimental treatment program on the amelioration of shyness in children
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Title: An Experimental treatment program on the amelioration of shyness in children
Physical Description: x, 235 leaves; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Lazarus, Philip James, 1948-
Publication Date: 1977
Copyright Date: 1977
Subject: Bashfulness   ( lcsh )
Emotional problems of children   ( lcsh )
Counselor Education thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Counselor Education -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 224-233.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
Statement of Responsibility: by Philip James Lazarus.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00098101
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000206747
oclc - 04041160
notis - AAX3541


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This study is dedicated to the author's kind and

loving grandparents, Sam and Gertrude Lazarus, and Dick

and Ethel Brownstein.


The author wishes to acknowledge those people who have

helped in the completion of the study.

Dr. Paul Fitzgerald, chairman of the author's super-

visory committee, provided needed support and encouragement.

Both his courage and faith were invaluable. Dr. Mary

McCaulley helped germinate the idea for the study. She gave

enthusiastically with guidance and intellectual stimulation.

Dr. E. L. Tolbert created a dissertation group where ideas

could be shared and explored. In addition, his diligent

editing of the manuscript made the study more coherent.

The counselors, Bob Bleck, Chari Cambell, Barbara Cleve-

land, Steve Huntley, and Sylvia Stuart, are sincerely thanked

for their interest and committed work in leading the groups

studied in this research. The author wishes to express spe-

cial thanks to Marilyn Mishkin and Finnette Williams. Both

these counselors helped in the original conception of the

treatment program and participated as group leaders in this


A special note of thanks is given to all the graduate

students, teachers, professors, counselors,and children who

participated in this study. Their assistance has been

greatly appreciated.

Margaret Anderson is acknowledged for her meticulous

editing and typing.

The author especially thanks his loving parents who

gave him support and encouragement in his academic pur-





LIST OF TABLES .. ......













. . . . . . y ii










. . . . . . . 224

SKETCH .. .. ... .. .. .. 234



TRAIT OF FACTOR H .. .. ... . ... 12



WITH CHILDREN . ... .. .. . .. 45








TEST .. .. .. .. .. . . . 138



Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the
Graduate Council of the University of Florida
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Philip James Lazarus

August 1977

Chairperson: Paul Fitzgerald
Major Department: Counselor Education

In a needs assessment survey conducted by the researcher,

shyness was found to be a personal problem among 46 percent

of a sample of 400 fifth grade students in north central

Florida. It was found that 38 percent of the children labeled

themselves shy, while 59 percent reported that they would

rather be less shy. Furthermore, 47 percent felt that they

would like to join a group led by their school counselor that

would help them be less shy.

In order to help students ameliorate shyness and the

emotional distress associated with shyness, a treatment pro-

gram was developed by the researcher with the assistance of

school counselors. This program was field tested in five

schools in a pilot research project. The program was then

revised in order to more adequately meet the needs of the

shy students. The final program, called Affirmation Train-

ing, was investigated in this study.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects

of the experimental treatment program on shy fifth grade

youngsters. The study investigated the effects of the treat-

ment from four vantage points: students, teachers, behavioral

observers,and school counselors. The study explored the ef-

fects of three independent variables: (1) group, (2) sex, and

(3) leader's training on seven independent variables: (1) Shy-

ness Self Report, (2) Shyness Line, (3) Shyness Problem-Line,

(4) Coopersmith Self Esteen Inventory, (5) Shyness Teacher Re-

port, (6) Teacher Shyness Change Rating, and (7) Simulated

Assertiveness Situation Test.

There were 98 shy fifth grade students from seven ele-

mentary schools who met the selection criteria and completed

the study. The selected students were randomly assigned to

either the control group or the experimental treatment group.

In order for a child to be selected into the study, he had

to meet two criteria. He had to answer affirmatively a ques-

tionnaire that asked, "Do you consider yourself a shy person?"

He also had to be judged by his teacher according to ten spe-

cific criteria to be within the shyest half of his class.

The experimental treatment is a seven week, 14 session

program. The children meet from 30 to 40 minutes twice a

week for seven weeks. Some of the psychological interventions

used are assertiveness training, role modeling, social skills

training, self disclosure and communication games, fantasy,

emotional discussion,and the teaching of attending and listen-

ing skills.

An analysis of variance was performed on all the cri-

terion variables. The data were analyzed to test for dif-

ferences between the main effects of group, sex, leader's

training, and for interaction effects. In addition, the

correlation among the pretest measures was investigated.

It was found using the .05 level of confidence that

there were significant differences between the experimental

and control group on the Shyness Teacher Report, the Teacher

Shyness Change Rating, and the Simulated Assertiveness Situ-

ation Test. There were no significant differences between

groups on the other four measures. Yet on the Shyness Line

and the Shyness Problem Line, the experimental group made

significant improvement from protesting to posttesting which

was confounded by the unexpected gains made by the control


No main effect for leader's training on the criterion

variables was significant. On one measure, the Shyness

Teacher Report, more significant gains were made by the


A positive correlation was found among all the pretest

measures. This indicated that shyness significantly corre-

lated with low self esteem.



A needs assessment survey was conducted by the researcher

who sampled nearly 400 fifth grade students in north central

Florida concerning their personal feelings on shyness. It

was found that 38 percent of the children labeled themselves

shy, while 59 percent reported that they would rather be less

shy. It was indicated that 46 percent of all the children

felt that shyness was a problem for them. Furthermore, 47

percent felt that they would like to join a group led by

their school counselor that would help them be less shy.

In another recent survey conducted by Zimbardo, Pilkonis,

and Norwood (1975) at Stanford University, the University of

California at Berkeley and Palo Alto High School, they re-

ported that over 40 percent of the respondents label them-

selves as presently shy. It was found that 82 percent de-

scribe themselves as having been dispositionally shy at some

time during their lives. That is, in the survey they were

willing to label themselves as a shy person, either past,

presentlor always.

Among those who are presently shy, three-fourths of the

respondents didn't like being shy; the proportion rose to 90

percent among those who had once been shy. The researchers

state, "It appears that people look back on the shyness of

their youth with about the same tenderness that they recall

adolescent pimples."

Yet, more than not liking their shyness or finding it

undesirable, the majority of those in the dispositionally

shy category consider their shyness a personal "problem."

When they break down the consequences of shyness, they re-

port the following:

1. SOCIAL PROBLEMS in meeting new people, making new
friends,or enjoying potentially good experiences.

isolation,or loneliness.

3. Difficulty in being APPROPRIATELY ASSERTIVE or
expressing opinions or values.

4. CONFUSING OTHERS. Shyness makes it harder for
other people to perceive the shy person's real

5. POOR SELF PROJECTION allows others to make totally
incorrect evaluations. For example, a shy person
may strike others as weak, snobbish, unfriendly or

effectively in the presence of others.

7. SELF CONSCIOUSNESS and an excessive preoccupation
with one's own reactions.

The seven painful consequences were so extreme that half of

the shy adults (Zimbardo, et al, 1975) and more than 60 per-

cent of the shy children felt they could use some therapeutic

help for their problem. In fact, nearly half of all children

would like to join a counseling group to help them be less

shy. Findings like these suggest that counselors and

psychologists have not taken the problem of shyness seriously


Purpose of the Study

The major purpose of this study is the development and

the empirical testing of the effectiveness of an experimental

treatment program designed to help shy youngsters. Rather

than treat shyness at the university or senior high school

level, shyness will be treated at the elementary school level,

since the purpose of the program is prevention. For as John

F. Kennedy, in his historical presidential message of February

5, 1963,in speaking on mental health,stated, "Prevention is

far more desirable for all concerned. It is far more eco-

nomical and it is far more likely to be successful."

The experimental program was originally developed by

the researcher and later refined by five elementary school

counselors, Atkinson, Bowers, Mishkin, Rawitscher, and

Williams. The researcher in a pilot study co-led a counsel-

ing group for shy fourth and fifth grade children with each

of the five elementary school counselors. A practical pre-

vention approach was used in order to attempt to ameliorate

both the emotional distress associated with shyness and shy-

ness itself.

There were 34 shy fourth and fifth grade students that

participated in the pilot study. It was found that in sepa-

rate ratings both counselors and teachers reported that over

90 percent of the children became less shy. On two self-re-

port measures, there was a statistically significant differ-

ence between protesting and posttesting. It was found that

the children considered themselves less shy and that shyness

was less of a problem for them after the completion of the

experimental treatment.

Theoretical Rationale of the Program

The experimental program is termed Affirmation Training

and is a comprehensive approach used with shy children in a

group counseling setting in order to ameliorate the emotional

distress associated with shyness and shyness itself. It is

a seven week, fourteen session structured group approach de-

signed to be led by school counselors or psychologists.

The program is based on the assumption of Dinkmeyer

(1968) that most problems are primarily social or interpersonal

in nature. It is based on the theoretical rationale of social

learning theory and behavioral counseling and is basically a

social skills acquisition approach.

Some of the psychological interventions used are asser-

tiveness training, role modeling, social skills training,

self-disclosure and communication games, fantasy, emotional

discussion and the teaching of attending and listening skills.

The counselor serves as a group leader and role model and

gives feedback, liberal reinforcement and praise to all the


This program is aimed to ameliorate the seven painful

consequences of shyness. For example, the first painful

consequence is in regard to social problems in meeting new

people, making new friends,or enjoying good experiences.

In fact, on the shyness survey, one girl after she checked

that she would like to join a counseling group, spontaneously

wrote, "then I could make some friends." Therefore, specific

exercises have been structured to teach shy children appro-

priate social skills in meeting new people and making new

friends, with the opportunity to practice these skills within

the confines of a safe therapeutic setting.

Need for the Study

Most shy individuals turn out to be unhappy with what

seems to be a chronic and unchangeable personal problem.

Shyness intrudes upon the lives of many people who don't

speak up for their rights, who can't stand up and affirm

their existence, and who never become leaders even when

they might be the most eminently qualified. Yet preliminary

evidence suggests that shyness might not be incurable. There-

fore, the present program was developed with the distinct aim

of helping shy children become less shy and feel more com-

fortable with their shyness. It also seems likely that the

mere knowledge of how widespread shyness is might help chil-

dren feel less isolated and unique.

Definition of Terms

For the purpose of this study, the following definition

will apply.

SHY CHILD. Shyness is an attribute which spans a wide

behavioral-emotional continuum. Yet, for selection into this

study, a shy child will be any child who attributes this label

to himself, is willing to participate in a group counseling

program, and is placed within the bottom half of his class by

his classroom teacher in regard to the construct of shyness.

Organization of the Remainder of Study

The purpose, theoretical rationale, need and definition

of terms were presented in Chapter I. A review of the litera-

ture focusing on the psychological construct of shyness, group

counseling with children, interventions with shy children,

theoretical rationale, and development of affirmation train-

ing, pilot study data, assertiveness training, and role model-

ing is presented in Chapter II. In Chapter III, the experi-

mental design and treatment procedures are described and pilot

study research in regard to the criterion instruments are dis-

cussed. The results of the study will be reported in Chapter

IV. Chapter V will include discussion of the results, limita-

tions, of the study and recommendations for further research.

The appendix will provide the criterion instruments and the

lesson plans for the experimental program.



The review of the literature can be divided into four

major areas. First the nature and etiology of shyness is

discussed. This section includes reference to principal

investigators, the construct of shyness,and survey research

on shyness in both adults and children. In this section,

the researcher's preliminary findings on the nature and

prevalence of shyness in fifth grade children is presented.

The second major area concerns group counseling with

children. First, group counseling is defined and its ra-

tionale explained. Then research on group counseling in

the elementary school is presented. This is then followed

by studies using intervention strategies with shy, with-

drawn, and nonverbalizing children.

In the third section, the researcher's pilot study on

an experimental group counseling program for shy children

is discussed. Finally, in the last section, the theory and

research relevant to the experimental treatment program is

presented. The program was developed based on the premise

that shyness is a social problem and that by providing direct

experience in social interaction, a shy child could learn to

interact more effectively in interpersonal situations. It

was believed that the most effective way to maximize this

social learning process was to integrate the curative fac-

tors with the behavioral counseling strategies of assertive

training and role modeling. Therefore, research on these

components are presented in the last part of Chapter II.

The Nature and Etiology of the Trait of Shyness

Shyness means different things to different people; for

some it is the reserved manner of the introvert, for others

it connotes modesty and diffidence. It can range from bash-

fulness through timidity to a chronic fear of people. Shy-

ness is an attribute which spans a wide behavioral continuum.

As conceptualized by Zimbardo, Pilkonis,and Norwood (1975),

at one end of the scale are those individuals who choose a

shy demeanor because they feel more comfortable with things,

ideas, projects, nature, or books than they do with other peo-

ple. They are not particularly apprehensive about being

with people or joining the crowd when necessary. They would

simply rather be alone.

The middle ground of shyness consists of those people

whose lack of self confidence, inadequate social skills,and

easily triggered embarrassment produces a reluctance to ap-

proach people or enter situations where they cannot readily

escape from the notice of others. This form of shyness is

typified by the awkward, socially inept adolescent who cannot

ask for a date, a favor,or better service.

But at the other extreme, shyness becomes a form of

imprisonment in which the person plays the roll of guard who

constantly enforces restrictive rules and the role of the

prisoner who obsequiously follows them. The guard knows the

prisoner both wants to engage in the given behavior and usu-

ally knows how to do so, therefore, it is neither a question

of lack of motivation nor lack of ability. The issue is one

of imposing rules which limit the prisoner's freedom to act

spontaneously. These may minimize the possibilities of un-

predictable reactions from others, reactions that are poten-

tial sources of danger to one's self-esteem, but only at

great cost to the individual.

Under some conditions what was originally just gauche

behavior may develop into a pathology of total withdrawal

from all social contacts and a life of excruciating loneli-

ness. Isolation from people is both a significant contribu-

tor to and consequence of many forms of severe psychopathology:

I remember as far back as four years
old, some of the stuff I used to do to
avoid seeing people that came to visit
us. They were people I knew like cous-
ins, aunts, uncles, friends of the
family, and even my brothers and sis-
ters. I hid in clothes baskets, ham-
pers, closets, in sleeping bags, under
beds and there's probably an endless
list, all because I was scared of peo-

As I grew up, things got worse....

(17 year old high school student,
Zimbardo, Pilkoniis,and Norwood, 1975,
p. 2-3)

Principal Investigators

Social scientists have generally shied away from the

systematic investigation of shyness. Among the few excep-

tions are personality trait theorists, Raymond Cattell and

Andrew Comfrey, who have used questionnaire responses to

measure individual differences in the "assumed inherent

trait" of shyness.

Cattell. No one individual has been more prolific on

the subject of shyness than has Raymond Cattell. Over the

past 40 years he has written more than 300 books and articles

describing a general model of personality in which shyness

is represented as a basic trait (Cattell, 1965, 1973).

For Cattell, shyness is one of the "characteristic

expressions" or surface traits that defines the negative

pole of a continuous personality factor he has labeled "H."

The "H" negative or a thretic person is one who according

to Cattell is

...intensely shy, tormented by an
unreasonable sense of inferiority, slow
and impeded in expressing himself, dis-
liking occupations with personal con-
tacts, preferring one or two close
friends to large groups, and not able
to keep in contact with all that is go-
ing on around him.

(Cattell, Eber, Tatsouka, 1970, p. 9)

For Cattell, shyness is one of the popular names used

to describe the thretic temperament which he believes arises

from a sympathetic nervous system that is overly susceptible

to threat and conflict. Thretic people (like Emily Dickinson)

represent one pole on a continuum that is bounded at the oppo-

site extreme by parmia types, stouthearted, bold, brash, so-

cially aggressive salespersons, competitive athletes, and group

therapists -- the Teddy Roosevelts, Winston Churchills, and

Andrew Jacksons of the world. (See Table 1.)

Cattell believes that shyness (a) is a trait substan-

tially determined by heredity, as much as and maybe more so

than intelligence; (b) is not modifiable by environmental

events; (c) declines steadily with age, "that is, shyness of

an excessive kind tends naturally to cure itself" (Cattell

1965, p. 97 Zimbardo (1975) has difficulty in accepting

these particular assertions about shyness.

Comfrey. Unlike Cattell, Andrew Comfrey has identified

shyness as a core factor in his taxonomy of personality

traits. Using a paper and pencil instrument and factor

analyzing total scores of collections of relatively homo-

genous items, he has found shyness as a trait characterized

by different combinations of the following: seclusiveness,

lack of social poise, avoidance of social contact, loss of

words, self consciousness, submissiveness, reserve, stage

fright, inferiority,and fear of speaking. There are other

items that also emerge occasionally but those listed above

are the ones that have been found most often (Comfrey &

Jamison, 1966; Duffy, Jamison & Comfrey, 1969).

Low Score High Score


(Shy, timid, restrained, (Adventurous, "thick

threat, sensitive) skinned", socially bold)

Shy, Withdrawn VS. Adventurous, Likes Meeting

Retiring in Face of VS. Active, Overt, Interest in
Opposite Sex Opposite Sex

Emotionally Cautious VS. Responsive, Genial

Apt to be Embittered VS. Friendly

Restrained, Rule-bound VS. Impulsive

Restricted Interests VS. Emotional and Artistic

Careful, Considerate VS. Carefree, Does not See
Danger Signals

*Cattell, R. B., Eber, H. W. & Tatsouka, M. M.
Handbook for the 16 P.F., Champaign, Ill.:
I PAT, 1970. p. 91.



What must be pointed out as a critique of this general

approach to the study of shyness is the nature of the data

base from which conceptual flights are launched. Individual

differences in shyness are determined by the Comfrey Person-

ality Scale (1970) solely in accordance with self evaluation

by respondents on but four test items:

1. I find it difficult to talk with a person I have

just met.

2. I find it easy to start a conversation with a


3. At a party, I find it hard to mix with people I

don't know.

4. I feel comfortable with people I have never seen


Aside from the dangers of overextension of this small

behavior sample, there is no attempt to systematically evalu-

ate situations, people,and activities implicated in arousing

one's feeling of shyness, nor evidence on developmental pat-

terns or the degree of personal acceptance or undesirability

of shyness.

Menninger. Some child development specialists such as

Karl Menninger have theorized on the problems and consequences

of shyness. Their assumptions are derived from clinical

experience, as contrasted to the previous researchers who

gathered empirical data from questionnaires.

Karl Menninger (1958) characterized the withdrawn child

as one who has given up the struggle for recognition and au-

tomony and has shut himself up in his own closet. He feels

that the personality that habitually retreats from situations

to which it cannot adjust itself may develop undesirable

character traits such as suspiciousness, timidity, fearful-

ness,and anxiety. Or the flights "may appear as such dodges

as "passing the buck," refusal to accept responsibility, and

depending upon luck, tricks, routine, or rules of thumb in-

stead of intelligent solutions." He believes that if the

withdrawn child is to be helped, the helper must not only

get him into the light of an interactive society, but also

aid him in establishing overt responses (Menninger, 1958,

p. 33)

Hurlock. Hurlock (1972) conceptualizes shyness as a

form of fear which is characterized by a shrinking from

familiarity or contact with others. She believes it is al-

ways aroused by people, never by animals or objects.

Hurlock lists the effects of shyness on personal and

social adjustment:

1. Leads to a generalized timidity which causes the

child to be afraid to try anything new or differ-

ent. This results in achievements below his poten-


2. Can become a generalized fear of anything that

differs from the accustomed; this fear militates

against th:e child trying to do anything new which

stifles creativity.

3. Can lead to being overlooked and neglected; this

contributes to poor adjustment because of lack of

social learning experiences.

4. Makes it difficult for a child to play a leadership

role because of his inability to communicate effec-

tively and creatively with others.

5. Discourages others to speak, since he fears address-

ing others; this encourages the child to become self


6. Encourages others to make unfavorable social judg-

ments, therefore, he is likely to be considered less

bright than he actually is.

7. Since self evaluations reflect social judgments, the

shy child judges himself as others judge him; this

contributes to the development of an inferiority com-


The Stanford Shyness Survey

An exploratory questionnaire was developed by Zimbardo,

Pilkonis, and Norwoo.l (1975) who sampled the experiences,

opinions, and beliefs of nearly 400 undergraduates regarding

various aspects of shyness. This instrument was refined and

extended and the final Stanford Shyness Survey was administered

to over 800 students at Stanford, the University of California

at Berkeley,and Palo Alto High School.

The survey included (a) self-reports of shyness, includ-

ing the willingness to label oneself as dispositionally,

chronically shy or merely temporarily shy in situationally

specific contexts; judgments of one's shyness relative to

peers; (b) estimates of the prevalence of shyness in the

general population and of its desirability; (c) elicitors

of shyness among people and situations often encountered;

(d) perceived correlates of shyness, including physiological

reactions, behavioral manifestations, cognitive concomitants

(thoughts and sensations), and the specific positive and nega-

tive consequences associated with being shy.

The sample consisted of bright, young, college-aged

students (mean of 20 years), unmarried, largely Caucasion

(75%), mostly native born (91%), representing both sexes

equally and all major religious denominations.

The most basic finding concerns the prevalence of shy-

ness, and in both the preliminary survey and the final one,

over 40 percent of the respondents labeled themselves as

presently shy. An amazing 82 percent described themselves

as having been dispositionally shy at some time during their

lives. That is, on the survey they were willing to label

themselves as "shy persons" either past, present,or always.

Only 18 percent reported never labeling themselves as shy,

and of these 17 percent acknowledge reacting with shyness

symptoms in certain situations; these individuals were

labeled situationally shy. Only one percent of the entire

sample report themselves as never having experienced shyness.

There is some evidence for the stability of this

characteristic over time since a quarter of the subjects

report having been shy for most of their lives. However,

there is also evidence for shifts into and out of the shy-

ness category. Forty-one percent of the total sample say

they used to be shy when they were younger, but are not now.

Of the student sample who have not been previously shy, 16

percent now feel that they have become so.

When the respondents were forced to label themselves

"shy persons" in light of the frequency of their shyness

reactions, 62% reported being shy only occasionally, but

think of these occasions as being sufficiently important to

justify the "shy" label. About a third of the sample had

a sense of being shy in more situations they face than not;

in other words, more than half the time they felt shy. Then

there are those individuals who are extremely shy; 3.6 per-

cent responded that they felt shy all the time, in all situ-

ations with virtually everyone.

Women were found to be no more shy than men, nor was

any difference found among racial subgroups. Yet religious

affiliation made a difference, as only 24 percent of the

Jewish students reported themselves as shy. This propor-

tion was about half that of other subgroups.

Zimbardo (1975, p. 22) states,

"Shyness" may be a trait label: "I am a shy person";

it may be a state ascription "I feel shy" or it can function

as a response description: "Strangers make me act shyly."

The entity being so tagged may be ourselves or others, and

we may be the observer, the observed, or both. We use the

concept of shyness (and similar psychological terms) in

short hand summary statements which appear to give coherence

to a variety of discrete prior observations we have made of

ourselves and others. But we also employ it as a predictor

of future behavior and as an explanatory construct to ac-

count for current reactions. The multiple usage of the term,

coupled with the lack of unambiguous criteria for its presence

or absence,allows considerable latitude for biased judgment.

For example, when the respondents, both the shy and not

shy, were asked to estimate the prevalence of shyness in the

general population, the average guess was 42 percent which

was identical to the reported frequency of shyness. The self-

reported shy persons significantly overestimate the extent of

shyness in the general population. When asked to compare the

extent of their shyness relative to peers of the same age and

sex, the most typical response was that they were "average";

in contrast, the shy respondent perceived him or herself as

more shy than peers.

Shy people tend to believe that their shyness is not

detected by others. Of all the persons labeled as presently

shy, only 55 percent assume their acquaintances consider

them to be shy, and a smaller percent (39%) believe that

their friends consider them shy. This may mean either that

they act less shyly with friends, or perhaps they are better

at concealing their shyness from friends.

The negative consequences of shyness. Of those persons

who are currently shy, three-fourths state they do not like

being shy, and this figure soars to over 90 percent among

those who used to be shy but no longer are. Yet, more than

not liking shyness or finding it undesirable, it is considered

a personal problem by the majority of those in the disposi-

tionally shy category. The most frequently reported nega-

tive consequences are that shyness

1. creates social problems, making it difficult to

meet new people, make new friends, or enjoy poten-

tially good experiences;

2. has negative emotional correlates, such as feelings

of depression, isolation,and loneliness;

3. makes it difficult to be appropriately assertive

or to express opinions and values;

4. limits positive evaluations by others of one's

personal assets;

5. allows incorrect social evaluations to be made

and persist unchallenged, for example, one may

unjustly be seen as snobbish, unfriendly, bored,

or weak:

"Shy she was and I thought her cold" ---
Alfred Tennyson

6. creates difficulties in thinking clearly and

communicating effectively with others;

7. encourages self-consciousness and an excessive

preoccupation with one's reactions.

"You're shy too? I wouldn't have guessed'"

Zimbardo (1975) conceptualizes that we all live in both

public and private worlds. Sometimes the two are compatible

which happens when we say what we mean, we mean what we say,

we dco what we want, and so forth. Yet, for the shy person

this is different. The public behavior of a shy person is

best characterized by its absence while the inner world is

filled with intense feelings, thoughts, and physiological re-


On checklists of overt behaviors, the following portrait

of the shy person emerges in terms of frequency of the re-

oorted occurrence of each item: silence (80%), lack of eye

contact (51%), avoidance of others (44%), avoidance of tak-

ing action (42%), and low speaking voice (40%). For those

individuals presently shy, these proportions represent a

given item that is deemed a personally applicable correlate

of shyness.

While all this behavior or nonbehavior is occurring

externally, the inner world of shyness is filled with self-

consciousness (85%), concern for impression management (67%),

concern for social evaluation (63%), negative self-evaluation

(59%), thoughts about shyness in general (46%), and forms of

cognitive distraction aimed at overting all of the above

(27%). The dominant physiological reactions reported are

increased pulse (54%), blushing (53%), perspiration (49%),

butterflies in one's stomach (48%), and a pounding heart


Differences between shy and not shy persons. Surpris-

ingly there are very few correlates which differentiate be-

tween those individuals who are presently shy and those who

are not shy. There is general agreement between both groups

as to what they are experiencing when they are in shyness

eliciting situations. Only slightly more of the shy than

nonshy people notice their heart pounding, but none of the

arousal cues differentiates between the two groups. The only

cognitive concommitant (other than general thoughts about

shyness) which is experienced more by the shy than the non-

shy is negative self-evaluation. When it concerns overt be-

haviors, only avoidance of others is more typical of the

shy group.

There is general agreement (a rank order correlation

of .90) between shy and nonshy people about conditions in-

cluding the types of people and kinds of situations which

elicit shyness. Shy people react somewhat more strongly

than their counterparts only to strangers, members of the

opposite sex in one-to-one interactions and to others of

either sex in small social situations. The presently shy

respondents were more willing to endorse as shyness

elicitors social situations in general, new situations, and

large and small social groups where they are the focus of


It was concluded (Zimbardo, Pilkonis, and Norwood, 1974)

that both the reactions and shyness elicitors differed among

the two groups not so much in qualitative features but in

quanititative amount. There was a significant tendency for

shy people to report they experienced more of everything

rather than different kinds of things. More types of situ-

ations and a wide range of people were capable of generating

shyness. Also, there were more cognitive, emotional, and

behavioral manifestations of shyness among those who label

themselves shy.

Self-attribution of shyness. Zimbardo (1975) states

"Assume, for example, that you do not speak out or take ac-

tion when it is appropriate, while you simultaneously monitor

your internal thought processes. Your inescapable inference

will be: 'I am shy.' Suppose in the exact same situation

you are privately embroiled in your private experiences of

shyness (feeling self conscious, anxious, concerned with

future performance, and negative self-evaluation, and also

experiencing the physiological symptoms of increased pulse

and butterflies in your stomach) yet finally decide to take

action because the costs of not doing so are too high. Yet

what do you infer about your disposition from your act?

Again you conclude that you are shy despite your public

behavior, since only you have access to the private events

taking place in your head and guts. Yet in the same situ-

ation, if another individual does act or talk you judge him

or her not to be shy." (Zimbardo, 1975, p. 23)

For dispositionally shy people, shyness resides within

themselves. It is a trait carried across situations, capable

of producing idiosyncratic reactions, and their responses to

given situations, consequently tell thiem something about them-

selves. In contrast, the nonshy perceive external events as

instigating temporary, discrete reactions which usually are

situationally appropriate and normal. Thus, having to give

a speech can provide confirmation of one's shyness or it can

be simply an event that gets one uptight. This depends if

one's reactions are perceived as providing information about

the self or the environment.

Shyness in some instances can often serve as a convenient

excuse for avoiding challenges, unpredictable situations or

people, and the possibility of rejection by others. Addition-

ally, it may be more self-acceptable to call oneself "shy"

than to acknowledge feelings of being unwanted, unloved, ugly,

different, uninteresting, lonely,0or neurotic. To choose to

label oneself "shy" may have fewer negative implications than

describing oneself in less flattering terms. It is also

possible to imagine shyness as a kind of ingratiation or self-

presentation strategy. By asserting "I am shy," a person may

be passively acknowledging social uneasiness, avoiding personal

responsibility for failure in social encounters and forcing

others to take the initiative.

For whatever reason some people come to label themselves

as shy, they react in ways that subsequently confirm and main-

tain the validity of their labelina process. Meanwhile, over

time most people turn out to be rather unhappy with their shy-


Shyness Survey of Fifth Grade Students

A needs assessment survey was developed by the researcher

who sampled the construct of shyness Among young children.

The sample consisted of 396 fifth grade youngsters from five

different elementary schools in Alachua and Marion County in

north central Florida. All the students were enrolled in

public schools that had either a parttime or fulltime ele-

mentary counselor on their staff. An effort was made to

sample the beliefs of children from diverse neighborhoods

that would be representative of the general population of

north central Florida. All the children were enrolled in

integrated schools in a regular classroom situation, in both

rural and urban neighborhoods.

A basic finding was that 38 percent of the children

labeled themselves as shy Dersons. When the children were

asked if they would rather be less shy, 59 percent responded

yes. It was found that 46 percent felt that being shy was

a problem for them. Furthermore, 47 percent felt that they

would like to join a group led by their school counselor that

would help them be less shy. (See Table 2.)

When the children were asked to rate themselves on a

7-point scale from being never shy to being shy all the time,

28 percent of the youngsters felt that they were shy at least

half the time. Five percent of the children labeled them-

selves as almost always shy, while 2 percent of the children

felt that they were shy all the time.

Sex Differences. When the question, "Do you consider

yourself a shy person?" was analyzed by sex, a significant

sex difference was found. It was found that 26 percent of

the boys considered themselves shy, while 74 percent did

not. From the sample of girls 49 percent of the girls la-

beled themselves shy, while 51 percent did not. It can be

seen that roughly one out of every four boys labels himself

shy, while approximately half the girls attribute this label

to themselves.

It was found that 53 percent of the boys and 65 percent

of the girls would prefer to be less shy. In addition, 40

percent of the boys and 51 percent of the girls find that

shyness is a problem for them. When the children were asked

if they would like to join a counseling group to be less shy,

the girls were much more inclined to want to participate than

boys. It was found that 60 percent of the girls and 35 per-

cent of the boys would like to join a group to help them be

less shy.



Do you consider yourself a shy person?

Total Group Boys Girls

37.6 25.9 48.9

Would you rather be less shy?

Total Group Boys Girls

58.6 52.7 64.7

Is being shy a problem for you?

Total Group Boys Girls

45.5 39.8 51.1

Would you like to join a counseling group...?

Total Group Boys Girls

47.0 34.8 59.5



Would you rather be less shy?

Total Group Boys Girls

Shy 73.0 61.5 78.5
Nonshy 50.2 49.7 51.1

Is being shy a problem for you?

Total Group Boys Girls

Shy 68.2 75.0 64.5
Nonshy 31.6 27.5 38.1

Would you like to join a counseling group.?

Total Group Boys Girls

Shy 62.8 51.9 68.8
Nonshy 37.7 28.9 50.5

When the question, "How shy are you?" was analyzed by

sex, again sex differences can be seen. At one extreme, 19

percent of the boys and 8 percent of the girls labeled them-

selves as never being shy, while at the other extreme 2 per-

cent of the boys and 3 percent of the girls felt they were

shy all the time.

It was found that 20 percent of all the children re-

sponded that they considered themselves shy, that they would

rather be less shy, and that shyness was a problem for them.

On the other hand, 21 Dercent of the children had the exact

opposite response. These students did not consider them-

selves shy, felt that they did not care to be less shy,and

did not consider shyness a problem for themselves.

An interesting finding was that there was not only a

roughly equivalent percentage of students who answered the

three questions affirmatively with those who answered nega-

tively, but that there was a complimentary balance according

to sex. Twenty-seven percent of the girls answered the three

questions yes, while 26 percent of the boys answered the

three questions no. Furthermore, only 12 percent of the

boys answered all three questions yes, while 15 percent of

the girls answered all three questions no. It can be seen

that the percentage of girls who felt they were shy, who

would rather be less shy and consider shyness a problem for

themselves was approximately the same as the boys who felt

not shy, who did not want to be less shy, and did not consider

shyness a problem for themselves. Also, the percentage of

boys who responded yes to all three questions approximated

the percentage of girls who answered no.

Differences between shy and~ nonshy children. The chil-

dren were analyzed according to those who considered them-

selves shy and those who considered themselves not shy. It

was found that 73 percent of the shy youngsters would rather

be less shy. Sixty-eight percent of the shy children con-

sider being shy a problem for themselves, and 63 percent

would like to join a counseling group that would help them

be less shy. (See Table 3.)

When these shy youngsters were analyzed according to

sex, it was found that 61 percent of the shy boys and 79 per-

cent of the shy girls would rather be less shy. It was also

found that a greater percentage of shy boys considered shy-

ness a problem than did shy girls with 75 percent of the shy

boys and 65 percent of the shy girls labeling shyness a prob-

lem. Though a greater percentage of shy boys labeled shy-

ness a problem, the shy girls seemed more willing to join

a counseling group than the shy boys, with 69 percent of the

girls and 52 percent of the boys willing to join a counseling


Similarities and differences between shy children and

shy adults. In comparing the Stanford Shyness Survey of

young adults with the researcher's survey of fifth grade

children, some similarities become apparent. In both

instances approximately 40 percent of all individuals label

themselves shy and about one-third of the respondents felt

shy at least half the time. A similar 3.6 percent of the

young adults and 2.3 percent of the children felt shy all

the time. In both surveys three-quarters of the shy re-

spondents would prefer to be less shy. In both surveys a

majority of individuals who felt shy only occasionally were

still apt to attribute a shy label to themselves.

The researcher found a greater percentage of shy chil-

dren willing to join a group than shy young adults. Another

significant finding was that approximately 40 percent of the

nonshy youngsters would like to join a group to help them be

less shy. It appears that both shy and nonshy children would

like some counseling assistance with this problem. This may

also be attributed to the high degree of rapport, perceived

helpfulness, and visibility established by the elementary

school counselors. In all schools the researcher visited,

it was quite apparent that many of the children wanted very

much to join a developmental group.

The most important difference between the two surveys was

that Zimbardo (1975) found that women were no more shy than

men, while the researcher found that fifth grade girls were

significantly more shy than fifth grade boys. While only

one out of every four boys labeled himself shy, roughly half

of the girls considered themselves shy. In addition, a

greater percentage of girls preferred to be less shy and

felt that their shyness was a problem. It appears that as

young girls approach adulthood they become less apt to label

themselves shy, whereas young boys become more apt to affix

this label on themselves.

In summary, it appears that shyness is a problem for

both children and adults and that most people would prefer

to be less shy. Most importantly, half the shy adults and

more than half the shy children would like some therapeutic

help in overcoming shyness.

Group Counseling With Children


Group counseling has been described as a dynamic, inter-

personal process through which individuals within the normal

range of adjustment work with a peer group and with a pro-

fessionally trained counselor, exploring problems and feel-

ings in an attempt to modify attitude so that they are bet-

ter able to deal with developmental problems (Cohn, Combs,

Gibran & Sniffen, 1973, p. 355-356).

Cox and Herr (1968) further elaborate on the dynamic

interpersonal process: dealing with individuals within the

normal range of adjustment, working with a peer group, work-

ing with a professionally trained counselor, exploring prob-

lems and feelings in an attempt to modify their attitudes

and the final aspect of dealing with developmental problems.

Gazda, et al. (1967) conducted a survey with respon-

dents who preferred the term group counseling, and from

this initial survey a composite definition was generated.

Group counseling is a dynamic inter-
personal process focusing on conscious
thought and behavior and involving
the therapy functions of permissive-
ness, orientation to reality, ca-
tharsis and mutual trust, caring,
understanding, acceptance and sup-
port. The therapy functions are
created and nutured in a small
group through the sharing of per-
sonal concerns with one's peers
and the counselorss. The group
counselees are basically normal
individuals with various concerns
which are not debilitating to the
extent requiring extensive per-
sonality change. The group coun-
selees may utilize the group in-
teraction to increase understand-
ing and acceptance of values and
goals and to learn and/or unlearn
certain attitudes and behaviors
(Gazda, et al. 1967, p. 306)

Mahler (1969) has defined group counseling as:

The process of using group inter-
action to facilitate deeper self
understanding and self acceptance.
There is a need for a climate of
mutual respect and acceptance so
that individuals can loosen their
defenses sufficiently to explore
both the meaning of behavior and
new ways of behaving. The con-
cerns and problems encountered
are centered in the developmental

tasks of each member rather than on
pathological blocks and distortions
of reality (Mahler, 1969, p. 11).

Developmental considerations are of prime importance

since different approaches are necessary with different

age groups. For example, some counselors advocate the

use of play procedures in the lower grades. "It is thus

advocated that such techniques as play therapy fit the

lower grade level much better than do the more verbal

counseling approaches" (Cox & Herr, 1968, p. 63).


It is now recognized that some authors prefer group

counseling to individual counseling for children. Faust

(1968) brings forth two arguments favoring group counsel-

ing. The first is based on the.belief that what chil-

dren learn is learned in groups and that new learning

(or unlearning) might therefore best be effected in groups.

The second argument is economic, since a counselor can

treat a larger number of children within the same time


According to Dinkmeyer (1968), the major therapeutic

effect of group counseling stems from recognition that

most problems are primarily social or interpersonal in

nature. The child then must learn to interact more

effectively within the group. Group counseling satisfies

this condition by providing direct experience in social

interaction. The child's character is expressed through

social movement and interaction. Group counseling thus

provides the child an opportunity to reveal personal con-

victions and develop self-understanding. The child there-

fore benefits from the corrective influences and encourage-

ment of the group. Members of the group come to under-

stand their own behavior by observation and identification

with the behavior of others. This process provides the

child an opportunity to consider alternative behavior and

test reality.

One of the primary benefits is that the process of

group counseling enables members to feel a genuine sense

of belonging, regardless of any individual's shortcoming.

Dinkmeyer states (1968), .. indeed, the child often

acquires a sense of belonging because of his deficiencies"

(Dinkmeyer, 1968, p. 272).

Group counseling enables the child to develop social

interests. In the group the child can show his concern for

others and can participate in the problems of daily living

(Dinkmeyer, 1968). In his position as a member of the group,

the child may see that other children have problems similar

to his own. By realizing this he may lose the painful feeling

of being different. This feeling Harry Stack Sullivan (1953)

aptly described as the "delusion of uniqueness," the widespread

and ultimately crippling notion people have that they are

utterly different from everybody else and therefore strange

and somehow inferior so that they had better keep quiet about

it. Yet within the security of the group, the child can ap-

proach his problems at his own speed.

Group counseling is also seen as facilitating the cor

rective process. The child is able through the group to re-

ceive feedback about his behavior and can thus develop new

behavioral strategies for interpersonal problems.

According to Dreijurs and Sonstegard (1968), group

counseling recognized that the child is an indivisible de-

cision making being whose actions have a social purpose.

It recognizes that a child has a basic need to belong and

that man is not self-actualized until he feels a sense of

belonging which can be facilitated in group counseling.

Bessell (1973) believes that through the group counsel-

ing process the child gains three primary benefits, he in-

creases his self-confidence, self-awareness, and social

understanding. Bessell (1973, p. 1) states,

All patients in therapy reveal three basic
though related deficiencies: They aren't
really aware of the motives that influence
their behavior; they lack a real and steady
confidence in themselves as whole persons;
and they only dimly understand why and how
human beings react to each other. People
with deficient self awareness, self confi-
dence and social understanding are really

"asking" and "answering" for themselves three
simple questions: Will I get hurt? (Yes.);
Will I fail? (Yes.); Will I be accepted? (No.).
These questions are natural and universal
among school children; the young child is
in effect born to ask them. The pessimistic
answers, however, are not natural; they are

Bessell believes that through an informed sympathetic adult

counselor and the positive influences of the group the child

can develop feelings of self-awareness, self-confidence, and

social understanding.

Dinkmeyer (1968) also sees other positive values in the

group experience. He feels that the group provides the child

with "the opportunity to develop a feeling of equality, con-

fidence, courage and adequacy; to release negative feelings;

to work out role identities; and to be loved." Dinkmeyer

states, "Although group counseling obviously provides a chance

to help more children at one time, it should not be chosen as

a guidance method merely because it is expedient. It should

be used because of the inherent advantages of the group setting

and group procedures." (Dinkmeyer, 1968, p. 152).

Carkhuff (1969) has developed group training as a pre-

ferred mode of treatment for problems in living that are

interpersonal in nature. Carkhuff proposes that the core of

functioning (or dysfunctioning) and the core of the helping

process are interpersonal. Therefore, he supports group pro-

cesses as the best mode of treating difficulties in inter-

personal functioning. From this viewpoint, the group situ-

ation can be viewed as a learning laboratory in which the

child gets a chance to try out in vivo some of the skills

he is using inappropriately in his real life environment.

Research on Group Counseling in the Elementary School

Altman and Firnesz (1973) selected 50 children who were

rated by their teachers as having low self-esteem according

to a Behavior Rating Form developed by the researchers. The

treatment groups met once a week for ten consecutive weeks.

A decision making model was used which provided children the

opportunity to explore alternative solutions to problems and

make trial decisions using role playing procedures. The re-

sults reported by the B.R.F. indicated that by role playing

typical conflict situations, children learned to cope better

with themselves and their environment, yet no significant

changes were found among treatment and control groups on

self-esteem as measured by the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inven-


Carkhuff (1970) believes in training those individuals

most directly involved with students' welfare paraprofessionalss)

to help them, including teaching students themselves the

skills that they require to function effectively and help

others. Carkhuff (1970) cited his successful training pro-

gram with ghetto school children who had difficulty express-

ing themselves in their classes. Students, teachers,and

counselors were first taught separately in groups the com-

munication skills that each needed to function effectively.

Group goals were set in achievable terms. The problems were

first discussed in imagery, then role played, and finally

enacted in real life. The programs were developed system-

atically and were tailored to the students' individual needs.

Furthermore, students' chances for success were enhanced by

training teachers to facilitate desired behavior in students.

Crow (1971) compared the effects of three types of group

counseling approaches that varied in structure. She provided

each group of sixth graders with group counseling once a week

for 45 minutes for 12 weeks. The combined groups of experi-

mental subjects made greater mean gains than the control sub-

jects on all of the seven criterion variables except one

(grades). The statistical data did not indicate which one

of three approaches would be preferable in working with sixth

grade students. Crow concluded that used sequentially, i.e.,

beginning with the most highly structured approach and con-

cluding with the approach involving no externally imposed

structure, the three approaches could be compatible rather

than competitive.

Davis (1948) in one of the better early studies counseled

nine children in two groups (30 minutes for each session,

twice a week for ten weeks) to find the answer to this ques-

tion: Can the degree of social acceptance within a first

grade be increased? She obtained daily reports from teachers,

photographed the children periodically during free play, and

used a sociometric test to appraise change in pre-, post-, and

follow-up testing. She concluded that group counseling in-

creased social acceptance in the classroom.

Eldridge, Barcikowski,and Witmer (1973) studied the

effects of the DUSO guidance problem on the self-concepts

of rural Appalachian primary age children. The sample of

98 pupils in the second grade of two elementary schools were

divided into two treatment and two control groups. The

experimental group received twenty-five 30 minute sessions

over a five week period using Unit I of the DUSO group guid-

ance program. It was concluded that there was a significant

difference in the self-concept of the children in the treat-

ment group as measured by the DUSO-AD-I which purports to

measure a sense of self identity. However, no significant

differences were found between the groups as tested by the

Pier-Harris Children's Self Concept Scale and the California

Test of Personality. The results appear to indicate that

the instruments were not measuring the same dimensions of

self concept.

Hinds and Roehlke (1970) appraised the effectiveness

of a learning theory approach to group counseling with third,

fourth,and fifth grade children who were referred by their

teacher because of specific behavior problems that inter-

fered with classroom learning. The experimental groups were

involved in biweekly counseling sessions with both a male

and female counselor. Classroom behavior of subjects was

used to establish a base rate for each client and to identify

behaviors that each child needed to improve. Counselors

used systematic reinforcement ini the groups to shape each

child's behavior and to extinguish interfering behaviors.

In this well developed study, competent counselors (the

investigators) provided the treatment and produced sig-

nificant results. Also, there occurred a transfer effect

from behaviors in the counseling group to desired behaviors

in the classroom.

In contrast, Kelly and Matthews (1971) failed to ob-

tain a significant result in a similar study. The investi-

gators used an experimental group with a classroom meeting

model developed by Glasser (1969) with 10 children; unfor-

tunately only five of these children had regular attendance

at the group meetings. This study should be repeated with

some necessary changes to test more adequately the experi-

mental hypotheses.

Kern and Kirby (1971) compared the effects of a counselor

centered group counseling procedure with one in which trained

peer helpers were used to assist the counselor. Groups of

five to eight children met for nine weeks in 50 minute ses-

sions. In those groups in which peer helpers were used,

children exhibited significantly greater improvement on per-

sonality measures than did either the controls or the sub-

jects treated in counselor centered groups. It is suggested

that these results should encourage counselors to train par-

ticipants to be helpers as well as helpees.

Mayer, Kranzler,and Matthes (1967) compared the effects

of counseling and selected guidance techniques upon fifth

and sixth grade elementary school students' peer relation-

ships. When the treatment conditions were compared, no

statistically significant differences were found among them.

The investigators used advanced graduate students as coun-

selors in the study and Patterson (1966) has claimed that

the use of these students as counselors is not an adequate

test of the effectiveness of counseling.

Moulin (1970) examined the effects of client centered

group counseling on intelligence, achievement, and psycho-

linguistic abilities of underachiieving primary school chil-

dren. The subjects were 24 first, second,and third graders

in a predominantly black elementary school. Significant

results were obtained for the psycholinguistic (ITPA) abili-

ties test and the nonlanguage sections of the mental test.

No measured differences were obtained on achievement level.

The treatment method, the counselor,and the setting in which

the treatment was given were well described, and the study

was reasonably well designed.

Novick (1965) made a comparison of short-term group

therapy and individual psychotherapy in problem children

treated in a community mental health center. He treated

children who were judged either good or poor prospects for

counseling. No significant gains were noted after 10 ses-

sions, but some significant changes were noted by trained

observers after 20 sessions. It is possible that chance

could have accounted for any observed differences in those

treated individually and for those treated in groups. Best

prospects responded better to treatment than poor prospects.

Ohlsen and Gazda (1965) appraised the outcomes of group

counseling with bright underachieving fifth graders. Twenty-

two experimental subjects were counseled twice a week for

eight weeks. In comparison to the control group, the experi-

mental group increased congruence between perception of self

and ideal self, and decreased symptoms related to psycho-

somatic illnesses. Yet they failed to exhibit significant

improvement in grades, behavior inventory scores, achieve-

ment test scores, perceptions of self, and social acceptance.

Ohlsen (1973), in reviewing his own study, believes that per-

haps the treatment experiences would have been made more

profitable if those selected had a greater commitment to

change, if the behavioral goals had been defined more spe-

cifically, and if they had been placed with other better

achieving children who could serve as models.

Palmo and Kunziar (1972) used a three group approach

and compared each group with controls and with each other.

They compared counseling children in groups, counseling chil-

dren in groups supplemented by consultation with teachers

and parents, and consultation only with teachers and parents.

They used an Adlerian approach and both children and teachers

met in separate groups twice a week for six weeks, while

parents met biweekly with other parents. It was concluded

that the parent-teacher consultation was the most effective

strategy used; however, there is the possibility that a

teacher-rater bias could have influenced their rater re-


Payne and Dunni (1970) attempted to alter the self con-

cepts of culturally different fourth and fifth graders in

18 counseling sessions. The sessions were highly structured

discussions developed around films and problem centered

stories. The children improved their self-concept scores

and interpersonal skills.

Thomas (1974) used videotaped modeling to increase

attending behavior of first grade students from disadvantaged

families. He chose, 69 students with the lowest total scores

on a standardized rating scale of attending behavior completed

by their teachers. Videotapes of a model (disadvantaged

child) who was attending were pr-esented to the experimental

groups. Attending behavior was defined as behavior which

indicated that the student was giving attention to the ma-

terial being presented. The results of the study provided

support for the assumption that a short term guidance inter-

vention program using modeling is an effective method for

increasing attending behavior. This investigation is an

excellent example of using criterion measures that are di-

rectly related to the counseling treatment.

Warner, Niland,and M~aynard (1971) used model-reinforcement

group counseling with discrepant fifth graders (most of whom

could be satisfied with nothing less than an A or B, but were

receiving C's or lower). The models used were children who

were achieving at the C range and expressed satisfaction with

their achievement. Model-reinforcement appeared to be more

effective in reducing discrepancy in students than did free

discussion groups. They also found the attitude that every

student must perform at above average levels if he is to be

considered successful, and determined that this is prevalent

in urban and rural areas, as well as in suburban areas. Hay-

ing unrealistic goals has been shown to be related to in-

appropriate behavior, and helping the child set more real-

istic goals may lead to more appropriate behavior.

Winkler, Tregland, Munger, and Kranzler (1965) investi-

gated the effects of counseling and remedial techniques in

altering grade point average and measured personality vari-

ables of underachieving fourth grade students. Out of 700

students tested, 121 were identified as underachievers.

These underachievers were exposed to various counseling and

reading instruction treatments for 14 one-half hour sessions.

The results indicated that the various treatments were not

effective in producing significant changes. The investi-

gators could have improved their study by using experienced

counselors and better criterion measures for appraising


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Summary and Implications

The quality of research designed to appraise outcomes

of group counseling with children has improved a great deal

during the past ten years. According to Ohlsen (1973), the

most common positive results include children's inr.~oved

(1) interpersonal skills; (2) acceptance of self and others;

(3) acceptance by others; (4) class participation; (5) con-

gruence between perception of real self and ideal self; (6)

school achievement; and (7) classroom behavior.

Howard and Zimpfer (1973), in reviewing the literature

on group approaches in the elementary school, believe that

the overall direction of the research to be more positive

than negative. In the area of underachievement in ele-

mentary school, the results have been overwhelmingly posi-

tive, while grade point average appears to be less affected

by group procedures. In regard to sociometric status, these

studies which were produced during the six year period 1964

to 1969 have produced conflicting results. During that time

those studies which utilized traditional group counseling

methods had disappointing results. However, the few studies

that used behavioral approaches to improve peer status ap-

pear encouraging.

Ohisen (1973) believes that improved results in group

counseling tend to be achieved when counselors can select

groups comprised only of those clients who know what is

expected from them as clients and helpers, what they can ex-

pect from others and how they may be helped. He sees the

most benefit from clients who are ready for counseling, who

are committed to change their behavior and are willing to

help other group members.

Ohlsen (1973) concluded that the research designed to

appraise group counseling with children is still plagued by

specific deficiencies: (1) inadequately defined treatment

process; (2) vague descriptions of the treatment process;

(3) vaguely stated criteria for appraising outcomes; (4) lack

of clearly defined behavioral goals; (5) use of vague, global

measures (and sometimes of irrelevant measures) to appraise

outcomes; (6) inadequate precautions to insure that control

subjects do not obtain treatment; (7) no systematic follow-

up of subjects; (8) use of a sample that is too small or one

that is not generalizable to other populations; (9) failure

to select clients who wish to participate and are committed

to change their behavior; (10) use of counselors who are

minimally or inadequately prepared to provide the counsel-

ing treatment.

It appears that prevention will require early identi-

fication and involvement. Howard and Zimpfer (1973) believe

that prevention ". . may require longer investments of

time in terms of longer treatment duration and later follow-

up evaluation to show their effects. They may also require

different measuring instruments that are sensitive to the

rapidly changing and developing elementary school student.

Studies Using Intervention Strategies With Shy, Withdrawn
or Nonverbalizing Children

Tosi, Upshaw, Landle,and Waldron (1971) used two be-

havioral based reinforcement techniques (the Premack Prin-

ciple and social reinforcement) with nonverbalizing ele-

mentary students. In the social reinforcement group, the

subjects engaged in conversation with the counselor for 30

minutes. Social reinforces consisted of the counselor's

use of words and phrases such as "good" and "that's wonder-

ful," "great" and "tell me more." Smiles and other friendly

gestures were also used.

The Premack Principle (Premack, 1965) suggests that a

high probable behavior (playing) can serve as a reinforcer

for a low probability behavior. In the group applying the

Premack Principle, the counselor asked the group members to

engage in conversation with them for 5 minutes; following

this, the members were given play time. The verbalizing

period was systematically increased by two minutes to a

maximum of 15 minutes.

A control group and a teacher expectation control group

were also included. In this study the control group made

greater gains than the teacher expectation control group.

The results indicated that the counseling interventions

which focused most directly upon the criterion behavior had

the greatest impact. Yet, all groups evidenced some improve-

ment. Tosi, et al. (1971) suggested that by focusing atten-

tion and by making clients aware of verbal behavior, the

child's verbalization can be increased

Tosi, Swanson,and McLean (1970) used group counseling

with nonverbalizing elementary pupils. The counselor met

with the experimental group once a week for 45 minutes for

four weeks and reinforced the children with praise and en-

couragement. The actual number of verbal responses to ques-

tions or verbal participation in discussion were counted by

teachers for a one day period. A pretest score and two post-

test scores were recorded. Students in the experimental

group did not differ significantly from control subjects on

posttest I, yet differed significantly on posttest II. The

experimental group made greater gains in unsolicited verbal

response than the control group. The authors suggest that

though this study is exploratory in nature, the counselor's

use of social reinforcement has applicability for use with

nonverbalizing elementary students.

Clement and Milne (1967) randomly assigned 11 shy,

withdrawn third grade boys to three play therapy groups.

The groups (4Ss), that met in a play group, who had a

therapist, and who received tangible reinforcement for so-

cial approach behavior, showed a marked reduction in the

extent of shy, withdrawn behavior.

Hansen, Nilang and Zani (1969) investigated the effec-

tiveness of model reinforcement and reinforcement group

counseling with elementary school children of low sociometric

status. The study was designed to compare the results of

model reinforcement groups (i.e., high and low sociometric

students) with reinforcement counseling groups consisting of

all low students. The groups were composed of either six

low or three high and three low sociometric students which

met twice weekly for four weeks. The students were told

that the purpose of the meetings was to discuss social be-

havior in schools.

The results indicated that low sociometric students in

model reinforcement conditions made significant social choice

gains while students in the reinforcement group and control

group made negligible gains. The findings suggested that

modeling in grouo counseling serves to strengthen learning

about social behavior.

Johnson (1964) did a study with upper elementary stu-

dents for the purpose of testing a procedure for increasing

classroom verbal participation. The subjects were students

who participated very little in classroom situations and

were chosen according to teacher rankings of class partici-

pation. The treatment groups were composed of three chil-

dren; all low participators, two low and one high partici-

pator, one low and two high participators, plus two control


The experimental groups weie given five 30-minute

treatment sessions, administered once every other day for

two weeks. The treatment consisted of discussions on famil-

iar topics, such as favorite television programs. Whenever

a low participator contributed to the discussion, the coun-

selor gave positive verbal reinforcement but withheld rein-

forcement from high participators.

The criterion measures were (1) teacher ratings of verbal

behavior during the weeks of the experiment; (2) the degree

of participation in a controlled discussion led by a counselor

who was a stranger to the students; and (3) observation of

verbal participation by an independent observer. The find-

ings indicated that the low participator increased signifi-

cantly on two measures, teacher ratings and independent ob-

servation. This suggested that experimental treatment

generalized outside the classroom group. In general, greater

transfer to classroom participation occurred when the treat-

ment groups consisted of all low participators rather than

when one or two high participators were mixed with the group.

O'Connor (1969) used symbolic modeling procedures to

correct severe withdrawal in young children. O'Connor notes

that withdrawal in social and interpersonal situations is

evidenced by two things: (1) deficits in social skills and

(2) avoidance of interpersonal situations. He recommended

that treatment should focus on learning new social compe-

tencies and erasing social fears.

Half of the children viewed a film that vividly por-

trayed a variety of social interaction scenes between a

child and others. Eleven scenes were depicted with each one

graduated according to the degree of threat and showed rein-

forcement for social interaction such as peer approval (smil-

ing, nodding, etc.) and peer acceptance (invitations to join

in, offering play materials, etc.). A control group observed

a film unrelated to isolate behavior.

Following these treatments, children were given the

opportunity for social interaction. Children who watched

the control film remained quite withdrawn, while children

who watched the modeling film made an impressive gain in

social interaction, which even surpassed a nonisolate base

rate. Follow-up observations were not conducted, but a

second set of teacher ratings were obtained at the end of

the year. The teachers were asked to again choose the most

extremely withdrawn children. Only one of the experimental

was chosen, whereas four of controls were chosen again.

In a case study with a six year old preschool boy (Ross,

Ross,and Evans, 1971), modeling with guided participation was

used to modify extreme social withdrawal. A seven week

(twenty-one 90 minute sessions) treatment program was ad-

ministered by a female psychologist, while a male under-

graduate psychology student served as a model. The first

four sessions consisted of establishing in the boy gener-

alized imitative behavior of the model. The remaining ses-

sions focused on different approaches such as symbolic

modeling presentations, giving information, role playing,

and modeling. Posttest and two month follow-up data showed

that the treatment was quite effective in increasing social

interactions and decreasing avoidance of other children.

Summary and Implications

In summary, most studies attempting to change shy,

withdrawn, nonverbalizingror isolate behavior in children

used some type of social reinforcement as the sole treat-

ment technique. O'Connor (1969) in a group treatment ap-

proach, used symbolic modeling procedures, and Ross, Ross,

and Evans (1971) used modeling with guided participation to

modify severe withdrawal in a young child. Ross, Ross,and

Evans (1971) were the only investigators who made an attempt

to teach new skills and behaviors in a single case study.

It is evident that there has been a lack of treatment aimed

at teaching withdrawn children new interpersonal skills with

an opportunity to practice these newly acquired skills within

a therapeutic group setting. Though social reinforcement

provided by an authority figure is an effective therapeutic

approach, there exists little follow-up data on its gener-

alizability after the reinforcement has been terminated.

The present researcher sees a need to provide a more compre-

hensive treatment program that will give children new skills

that will be effective after social reinforcement has been


Pilot Study on an Experimental Group Counseling
ApEproach for Shy Children

Purpose of the Program

The major purpose of the pilot study was to develop,

refine, and test a group counseling program for shy children.

A practical approach was developed in order to ameliorate

both the emotional distress associated with shyness and shy-

ness itself.

The experimental program is named Affirmation Training

and is based on the theoretical rationale of social learning

theory and behavioral counseling. The researcher used a group

counseling intervention strategy based on the assumption of

Dinkmeyer (1968) that most problems are primarily social or

interpersonal in nature. The researcher, in developing the

program, attempted to utilize the curative factors in group

counseling and psychotherapy (Yalom, 1970). This was done

by structuring the group sessions to take particular advantage

of the effective force of the curative factors.

The basic structure of the program was initially de-

veloped by the researcher who felt strongly committed to

the idea of prevention. The researcher, in his formative

years, was a shy child who had experienced first-hand much

of the emotional distress associated with shyness. The

basic idea was to prevent other children from experiencing

the painful consequences of shyness. This was to be done

by teaching specific skills, maximizing opportunities for

the discussion of feelings, providing a safe therapeutic

milieu,and giving liberal reinforcement to the efforts of

all the children.

Since the researcher came from a background of counsel-

ing in university counseling centers and community mental

health centers, it was believed that the best way to refine

and polish the program was to work with experienced ele-

mentary school counselors. Therefore, the researcher en-

listed the expertise of five counselors in Alachua and

Marion County who had received their training from the

Counselor Education program at the University of Florida.

The elementary school counselors, Atkinson, Bowers, Mishkin,

Rawitscher,and Williams, each co-led a group with the re-

searcher. The groups met twice a week for seven weeks in

30-45 minute counseling sessions. Each counselor contrib-

uted greatly to the final development of the experimental

program, and the researcher is greatly indebted to their

guidance and influence.

Components of the Program

The program is composed of fourteen 30-40 minute

structured group counseling sessions. (See Appendix A.)

One central idea is to provide all the children the op-

portunity to interact in a group setting. Therefore, dur-

ing the beginning of each session, each child is given his

own chance to relate to the group what he is thinking and

feeling. During the first sessions the procedure is called

greeting talk, and the child faces the person next to him,

and relates how he feels, and relates any significant happen-

ings of the day or previous week. After the children feel

comfortable with greeting talk, rounds begin. The same pro-

cedure is followed except that instead of speaking in dyads

the child speaks to the entire group. The basic goal is to

encourage all the children to share their thoughts and feel-

ings within the supportive atmosphere of the group. During

the first couple of sessions, the goal is to encourage par-

ticipation, and this is accomplished through counseling games

and exercises. During the second week, the counselor begins

to teach assertiveness training to the children. The differ-

ences between passive, aggressive,and assertive behavior are

taught and children are given numerous opportunities to role

play different situations using all three types of responses.

The counselor models the components of assertive behavior,

and the children practice these learned skills in the counsel-

ing setting. The children in the following weeks are taught

listening, attending,and communication skills. They are also

engaged in semi-structured group discussions, with some of

the discussions related to shyness issues. During the final

weeks, the group returns back to assertiveness training, with

the children provided the opportunity to bring their own per-

sonal problems to the group for discussion and role playing.

The counselor in the group always models effective interpersonal

skills, and not only provides reinforcement to the children,

but also encourages the children to reinforce each other.

Selection Procedures

Thirty-four children were selected for the experimental

treatment program by the school counselor in conjunction with

the teacher or by the teacher alone. Selection procedures

were based on ten criteria that appeared characteristic of

shy children. The criteria were (1) has difficulty speak-

ing up in class; (2) speaks in a low speaking voice; (3) is

timid in social situations: (4) has difficulty establishing

eye contact with others; (5) has difficulty standing up for

his/her rights; (6) is quiet in social situations; (7) tends

to withdraw from social contact; (8) appears self-conscious

in social situations; (9) appears shy with classmates; and

(10) appears shy with adults.

Criterion Instruments

The criterion instruments used were developed by the

researcher. These include the Shyness Self-Report, which

is an 18-item questionnaire focusing on a child's feelings,

thoughts,and behaviors related to shyness. The other instru-

ment developed by the researcher was an internal-external

control measure. This was based on the internal control

expectancy that reinforcing events are at least partially

contingent on one's own behavior, rather than wholly depen-

dent on chance, fate,and other's uncontrollable whims.

The third self-report measure was the Shyness Line, a

Likert type line where children were asked where they felt

they belonged on the construct of shyness. They were asked

to place a mark on a 9-point line according to how they felt

about the question, "Are you a shy person?" The fourth self-

report measure, the Shyness Problem Line, used the same for-

mat and the children were asked, "Is shyness a problem for

you? "

The fifth measure was a rating by the teachers of the

children in the experimental group. The teachers were asked

to give an overall change rating to the children based on

the ten specified criteria. The teachers were asked to rate

the children one week after the group's termination. The

measure was based on a 9-point scale ranging from extreme

positive change to extreme negative change. The sixth mea-

sure was the same rating form completed by the school coun-



The counselors rated 91 percent of the children improved;

9 percent were reported to have made no change. Not one child

was reported to have made a negative change. The counselor's

ratings were extreme positive change (3%), large positive

change (18%), moderate positive change (44%), and slight posi-

tive change (26%). The median amount of change was moderate

positive change.

The teachers reported very similar findings, 91 percent

of the children improved, 9 percent were reported to have

made no change and no child was reported to have made a nega-

tive change. The teachers' ratings were: large positive

change (15%), moderate positive change (47%), and slight

positive change (29%). The median amount of change was mod-

erate positive change. The mean amount of change reported

by the counselors and teachers were 1.79 and 1.68, respec-


On the four self-report measures, the subjects were

given both pre and posttests. It was found that on both

the Shyness Line and the Shyness Problem Line there was a

significant difference at the .05 level in the perceptions

of the shy children. The children reported that they not

only saw themselves as less shy, but that shyness was less

of a problem to them after receiving the experimental treat-


On the Shyness Self-Report there was a change in a posi-

tive direction in the reported feelings, thoughts and be-

haviors of the shy children. Though the change was in the

anticipated direction, it did not reach statistical sig-

nificance at the .05 level. On the internal-external con-

trol measure, there was no appreciable change; that is, chil-

dren did not see themselves as more internal after the comple-

tion of the group.


It was found that some of the effects of the experimental

treatment were not able to be measured by the criterion instru-

ments, and that some of the changes in the group members did

not become as discernable until weeks after the termination

of the group. For example, in one school, plays were put on

in the various grade levels. The children that had partici-

pated in the experimental treatment group co-led by Bowers

and the researcher not only actively participated, but were

said to have projected themselves better than their class-

mates and actually had leading parts.

In the later groups there was a greater focus on be-

havior change in the classroom. It was found that some of

the change was situation specific, that is, the children

changed their behavior according to what they practiced in

the group. In one group the children practiced walking up

to the teacher and asking her for help when they didn't under-

stand the lesson. In another group the emphasis was placed

in having the children raise their hands when they knew the

answer to a question asked by the teacher. In the first group

the teachers reported that the children were more frequently

eliciting her help, while in the latter group the children

were participating more in class discussions.

It was also found that the children did not feel com-

fortable with their shyness. In one group the children were

asked if they would prefer to be less shy if they could. All

the children responded that they wished they could be less

shy. When asked in an assertiveness training session how

they usually respond in a given situation, most children

chose the passive response. Yet when asked how they would

like to respond, all the children chose either the aggres-

sive or the assertive response.

Summary and Implications

The results of the pilot study suggest that it is pos-

sible to change the feelings, thoughts and behaviors of shy

children. These changes can be seen by both counselors and

teachers. Approximately 90 percent of all shy children make

a positive noticeable change. There was no evidence of any

detrimental effects on any of the children. On a global rat-

ing the children report that they now see themselves as less

shy and that shyness is less of a problem to them. There

was a slight positive change that did not reach significance

on an 18-item questionnaire measuring shyness. It appears

that though there was a general feeling of being less shy

and experiencing shyness as less of a problem, a statistically

significant change was not discernable by combining the re-

sults of eighteen possible shyness-eliciting situations.

There was no change in internal-external locus of control.

For the experimental study it was decided to abandon

the internal-external control measure and change the treat-

ment slightly to correspond more with the 18-item question-

naire. Also, a simulated assertiveness situation test was

developed to tap children's assertiveness that is specifically

geared to the experimental treatment. This would test chil-

dren's assertiveness in five specific situations and would

hopefully be more sensitive to positive change.

Theory and Research Relevant to the
Experimental Treatment Program

Curative Factors

In order to better understand the rationale for group

counseling, the curative factors in group psychotherapy will

be examined; some factors operate both in individual and

group therapy, while others are specific to groups.

Yalom (1970) was seeking an answer to the basic question,

"How does group therapy help patients?" If this question

could be answered with certainty and clarity, group therapy

could be potentially organized to enhance the potency and

development of the major curative factors. Yalom used three

basic approaches to answer this question. He collected data

from therapists of different schools of thought, from group

therapy patients during and after the course of therapy, and

correlated a series of in-therapy variables with ultimate

patient outcome in therapy. He attempted to determine which

variables are significantly related to successful outcome.

From these three approaches he divided the curative factors

into primary categories. Many of these factors are inter-

dependent, that is, they do not occur nor function separately.

Yet for the sake of clarity these ten factors are considered

separate entities:

1. imparting of information

2. instillation of hone

3. universality

4. altruism

5. the development of socializing techniques

6. imitative behavior

7. catharsis

8. group cohesiveness

9. interpersonal learning

10. the corrective recapitulation of the primary

family group.

The first nine curative factors will be discussed with

an emphasis on their integration into a counseling program

designed to ameliorate the emotional distress related to shy-


The imparting of information. Didactic instruction has

been employed in different fashions in group counseling. It

sometimes operates as an initial structuring process for the

group until the other factors come into existence. Both

explanation and clarification can be curative in nature.

Jerome Frank (1946) has shown that secondary anxiety stemming

from uncertainty often creates more havoc than the primary


Affirmation Training is by definition educational in

nature. Children are given information in regard to listen-

ing, attending and communication skills. The children are

taught the basic differences between nonassertive, aggres-

sive and assertive behavior. For example, systematic observa-

tion of assertive behavior has led many behavioral scientists

to conclude that there are a number of elements which consti-

tute an assertive act. These components are demonstrated:

eye contact, body posture, gestures, facial expression, voice

tone and volume, timing,and content (Alberti & Emmons, 1975).

Zimbardo (1975), in addressing therapy for shy college stu-

dents, believes that the simple act of disseminating informa-

tion about the prevalence and nature of shyness may have

therapeutic value. "Our students in the shyness seminar were

greatly relieved to discover that they were not unique in

their shyness, and in fact were statistically quite common

and 'normal' in being shy." Therefore, psychological educa-

tion is one of the most important curative factors in Affirma-

tion Training. (Zimbardo, 1975, p. 49).

Instillation of hope. Several research inquiries have

demonstrated that a high pretherapy expectation of help is

significantly correlated with positive therapy outcome

(Goldstein, 1962). There is also massive data on placebo

treatment. Also, such practices as faith healing have shown

successful cures in true believing individuals.

A primary emphasis in Affirmation Training is that chil-

dren will become less shy as they continue through the pro-

gram. The children are given hope during the first session.

They are given the expectation to keep trying and they will

improve with practice. The children are told that they will

gain many valuable experiences and learn new things that

will be both beneficial and exciting.

Universality. Yalom (1970) sees the disconfirmation

of the sense of uniqueness as a powerful source of relief.

Such social psychiatrists as Harry Stack Sullivan describe

this concept as the "delusion of uniqueness," while Karen

Horney (1945, p. 41) sees the feeling a child has of being

isolated and helpless in a hostile world as the basic fac-

tor causing anxiety. Therefore, the sharing of this anxiety

with other children in the group has great therapeutic sig-

nificance. For example, in co-leading a group at a partial-

hospitalization community, the group members were greatly

relieved when an incoming member shared the nature of delu-

sional voices he heard. The group members all probed this

new member to determine if the voices heard were similar or

dissimilar to their own. The more similar the delusion the

less unique and less frightened the patients became.

Universality can best be appreciated in conjunction

with the other factors in Affirmation Training. With ex-

tremely shy youngsters who have difficulties in interpersonal

relations, their sense of uniqueness can be heightened by

social isolation. Therefore, the opportunities to share

their feelings, especially in emotional discussion and

rounds, can help disconfirm their feelings of uniqueness.

Altruism. In the course of counseling, children help

one another. This form of help can come from support, ad-

vice, reassurance or the sharing of similar problems. Jerome

Frank (1963) has related the importance of altruism in dif-

ferent psychotherapies.

In Affirmation Training exercises are specifically de-

signed to enable the children to compliment each other. An

emphasis is placed on giving positive feedback, with the

counselor offering praise to students who socially reinforce

each other.

The development of socializing techniques. Social learn-

ing which is the development of basic social skills operates

in all therapy groups. The nature and importance of this

process is dependent on the particular type of group.

The teaching of social skills is a prime factor in help-

ing the shy child. The child is taught how to more effec-

tively interact with his peers, to develop more social under-

standing, and to learn how to include others and be included.

He is taught how to reinforce other children and how to be

appropriately assertive in social situations. Through the

group counseling process the child learns to give construc-

tive and positive feedback to other members.

Imitative behavior. Bandura (1962, 1965, 1969, 1971)

has long claimed that social learning cannot be adequately

explained on the basis of direct reinforcement. He and his

associates have demonstrated the great importance of role

modeling as an effective therapeutic force.

In counseling shy children the counselor serves as a

role model. In teaching communication skills, social skills,

and assertive skills, the counselor directly models the spe-

cific behavior and provides an opportunity for the children

to imitate him. Not only is the counselor modeling specific

skills, but he is also establishing with the children a re-

lationship which offers them high levels of accurate empathy,

nonpossessive warmth,and genuineness. These conditions have

been shown by Truax and Carkhuff (1967) to be the critical

variables between effective and noneffective counselors. In

summary, the counselor is modeling both specific skills and

his own wholeness and congruence in the relationship.

Since social skills training (Assertiveness Training)

and role modeling are such important components of Affirma-

tion Training, the related research will be explained in

greater detail later in this chapter.

Catharsis. The expression of strong feelings is seen

by Yalom (1970) as a valuable part of the curative process

though not a goal in itself. Strong expression of emotion

enhances the development of cohesiveness.

Yet for shy children catharsis can be quite important.

The children in Affirmation Training are provided an

opportunity to express their feelings and "get things off

their chest." The children are taught how to express both

positive and negative feelings in assertiveness training.

The children are shown how to say what was bothering them

instead of keeping quiet. The children are also given the

opportunity to act in an aggressive manner before they act

in an assertive manner. The expression of aggression often

helps facilitate the expression of other feelings and helps

facilitate the group process.

Group cohesiveness. The personality theory of Alfred

Adler and his proponents Rudolph Dreikurs, Raymond Corsini,

Manford Sonstegard, and Don Dinkmeyer are exceedingly help-

ful for understanding the therapeutic importance of the group.

According to Alderian theory, man is primarily a social being.

The characteristics which make him distinctly human are a re-

sult of his interaction with his fellow man in a group setting.

It is only within the group that he can function and fulfill

himself, for man is dependent on the group for his develop-

ment (Dinkmeyer & Dreikurs, 1963).

Man's behavior can be best understood if it is viewed

in terms of his social setting; man should not be analyzed

apart from the social situation. Social striving is viewed

as primary, not secondary. The search for significance and

for a place in society are basic objectives. The child is

seen as a socially interdependent person and cannot be recog-

nized in isolation. Conflicts arise from interpersonal

clashes and not out of intrapersonal struggles.

Belonging, or the extension of social interest to

others, is a requisite for mental health (Dinkmeyer, 1968).

Man is seen as not self-actualized until he belongs. Accord-

ing to Dreikurs and Sonstegard (1968), some children have

never felt a sense of belonging either in the family or

school group. In group counseling, each member soon feels

that he has a place, despite his shortcomings and deficien-


The concept of maladjustment means mistaken approaches

to finding a place among one's peers. A child may appear

weak and deficient when be becomes discouraged and loses

self-confidence. Yet he is viewed as merely using wrong

methods to find a place among his peers.

Slayson (1945) summarizes the value of the group to


...lies in the fact that it supplies
a field in which the child may relate
himself to others, thus helping him to
break through isolation, withdrawal, and
aggressive rejection of people .. to
go out .. into the human environment,
thus leading from egocentricity and nar-
cissism to object relationships .. to
test himself against others and discover
the boundaries of his ego .. [and] of-
fers the possibility of developing pat-
terns of relationships with human beings which the feeling of sameness
and therefore of comfort and security is
greatest . .. (p. 209)

Bessell (1973), who derived his human development pro-

gram from the social psychological theories of Karen Horney

and Harry Stack Sullivan, believes that children have basic

needs for attention, acceptance, approval,and affection.

The more these basic needs are met within the group, the

more cohesive become its members.

Attention is notice or recognition; it is a simple

acknowledgment of presence. If young children don't get

attention, they become either withdrawn or disruptive.

Only less critical is the need for acceptance. This means

there is a place for the child, a place created by the


Acceptance implies the absence of normative evaluation

or judgment. The most satisfying kind of acceptance is near

total acceptance where the child feels that nothing he does

will cause him to be rejected as a whole child.

Approval is a warm positive emotion. It means the child

is okay. Approval creates a sense of emotional community and

creates the feeling that the child is emotionally linked in

a special way.

Affection is the natural expression of closeness between

two individuals as individuals. It is a sense of closeness

that is often expressed through touch. Unfortunately, many

children do not know how to get attention, acceptance and

approval at the same time. Therefore, Affirmation Training

provides a structured approach for all children to receive

attention, acceptance and approval from the counselor and

the group. This tends to increase group cohesiveness and

produce individual growth.

Yalom (1970, p. 39) states, "group membership, accept-

ance, and approval are of the utmost importance in the de-

velopment of the individual. The importance of belonging to

childhood peer groups .. can hardly be overestimated. There

seems to be nothing of greater importance for the adolescent,

for example, than to be included and accepted in some social

group, and nothing more devastating than exclusion."

Interpersonal learning. When we study man's broad evo-

lutionary history from an anthropological perspective, it

becomes necessary to consider man in the matrix of human re-

lationships (Yalom, 1970). Hamburg (1963) has pointed out

that there is convincing data from the study of primitive

human cultures and nonhuman cultures that man has always

lived in a group situation with its myriad of interpersonal

relationships. He concludes that man's interpersonal be-

havior has been marked by intense positive intermember bonds,

and without this strength survival of the species would have

been impossible.

Yalom (1970) refers to Goldschmidt's (1963) review of

ethnographic evidence, which states:

...Man's self interest can best be
served through his conimittment to his
fellows . .. Need for positive af-
fect means that each person craves re-
sponse from his human environment. It
may be viewed as a hunger, not unlike
that of food, but more generalized.
Under varying conditions it may be ex-
pressed as a desire for contact, for
recognition, for acceptance, for ap-
proval, for esteem, or for mastery. ..

As we examine human behavior, we find
that persons not only universally live
in social systems which is to say they
are drawn together, but also univer-
sally act in such ways as to attain
the approval of their fellow men. (Yalom, 1970, p. 39)

The social psychological theory developed by Adler

(Individual Psychology) has been discussed due to its impact

on group psychotherapy and counseling and since it provides

theoretical support for Affirmation Training. Another social

psychiatrist, Harry Stack Sullivan's, formulations are exceed-

ingly helpful for understanding the group therapeutic process.

Sullivan (1940) contends that personality is a hypothetical

entity which cannot be isolated from interpersonal situations,

and interpersonal behavior is all that can be observed as per-

sonality. Sullivan believes that it is vacuous to speak of

the individual as the object of study because the individual

cannot exist apart from his relations with other people.

From the first day of his life, the baby is part of an inter-

personal situation and throughout life remains a member of a

social field.

Sullivan theorizes that man's need to be closely related

to others is as basic as any biological need. During the

developmental period, in the child's quest for security, he

tends to develop those traits and aspects of himself which

meet with approval and deny those aspects which meet with


Sullivan speaks of the juvenile stage which is evidenced

in the upper elementary grades. This is a period for becoming

social, for acquiring experiences of social subordination

to authority outside the family, for becoming competitive

and cooperative, for learning the meaning of ostracism, dis-

paragement, and group feeling.

Sullivan (1953, p. 10) views the therapeutic process

"as the study of processes that involve or go on between

people." Mental disorder is translated into interpersonal

terms. Sullivan (1938, p. 121) states, "Mental disorder as

a term refers to interpersonal processes either inadequate

to the situation into which the persons are integrated, or

excessively complex because of illusionary persons also inte-

grated into the situation." Treatment is directed toward the

correction of interpersonal distortions, thus enabling the

individual to lead a more abundant life, to participate col-

laborately with others, and obtain mutually satisfying inter-

personal relationships. Sullivan (1940, p. 207) states, "One

achieves mental health to the extent that one becomes aware

of interpersonal relationships."

As the seven painful consequences of shyness are examined

it can be readily seen that the problems experienced by shy

individuals are interpersonal in nature. In fact, Zimbardo,

Pilkonis, and Norwood (1975, p. 69) entitle their article,

"The Social Disease Called Shyness." Consequently, any pro-

gram designed to help shy children must concentrate on en-

abling the child to achieve more mutually satisfying inter-

personal relationships.

The reviewed studies that attempted to help withdrawn

children used social reinforcement as the basic intervention

approach. This was accomplished by using an authority fig-

ure as the sole reinforcement dispenser. Not only did the

researches use only one intervention strategy, but they

failed to use the peer group as social reinforcers. Child

development specialists have demonstrated that during the

critical upper elementary age, the peer group becomes so

exceedingly important. Thus, Affirmation Training attempts

to maximize interpersonal learning and the reinforcing prop-

erties of the group members through specific exercises in-

stead of only relying on the counselor as the sole reinforcer.

Assertive Behavior

Assertive behavior is interpersonal behavior involving

the honest and relatively straightforward expression of feel-

ings. According to Rimm and Masters (1974), "assertive train-

ing includes any therapeutic procedure aimed at increasing

the client's ability to engage in such behavior in a socially

appropriate manner." Behavioral goals usually include the

expression of negative feelings, such as anger and resent-

ment. Yet in some instances assertive training is used to

facilitate the expression of positive feelings such as praise

and affection.

Increased assertiveness is assumed to benefit the client

in two significant ways. First, behaving in a more assertive

manner should instill in the client a greater sense of well

being. Second, the client, after behaving more assertively,

should achieve more social and material rewards and thus ob-

tain more satisfaction from life (Rimm and Masters, 1974).

Present day assertive training techniques are based

upon the writings of Joseph Wolpe (Wolpe, 1958, 1969; Wolpe

& Lazarus, 1966) and to a lesser extent, the works of Andrew

Salter (1949, 1964). Salter presented specific techniques

in Conditional Reflex Therapy. He advocated assertive pro-

cedures (his term was "excitory") and described six exercises

which are summarized below:

1. The use of feeling talk, which involves practice

in expressing any feeling.

2. The use of facial talk, which involves practicing

facial expressions that go with different emo-


3. Practice in expressing a contradictory opinion

when one disagrees.

4. Practice in the use of i. (In other words, tak-

ing responsibility for one's feelings.)

5. Practice in agreeing when complimented.

6. Practice in improvising.

The theory of assertive training. Salter (1949) viewed

behavioral timidity as reflecting a state of psychological

inhibition that has come about as a result of Pavlonian con-

ditioning. His therapeutic exercises were designed to

replace this state of psychological inhibition with one of

excitation, Rimm and Masters (1974) criticized this view,

since Salter assumed a very broad trait of inhibition, and

the available research indicates that lack of assertion is

related to a specific situation, rather than a general


The most frequently cited interpretation of what hap-

pens when an individual behaves assertively has been pro-

posed by Wolpe (Wolpe, 1958; Wolpe & Lazarus, 1966; Wolpe,

1969). Wolpe based his model on a reciprocal inhibition

model of therapy. He assumed that assertion and anxiety

are to a considerable degree incompatible. Yet there exists

little direct evidence that assertion correlates with anxiety


There are other accounts as to why an individual may

benefit psychologically (for example, the Freudian view of

catharsis). Yet, though there as disagreement regarding

the theory of assertive training, there is a large body of

data supporting its practical value.

The advantage of assertive training in groups. Alberti

and Emmons (1975) believe that for many trainees assertive

training in groups is more effective than one-to-one therapy

because of the expanded potential for interaction. The non-

assertive person typically encounters great anxiety when

confronting others inl order to assert himself. Learning

within the group provides a laboratory of other people with

whom to work. The trainee also feels less alone, since the

group members discover that they share similar problems.

An effective group is usually suopsortive, so that each per-

son can be comfortable enough to experiment with new be-


Another distinct advantage is that the group provides

more diverse feedback than can an individual counselor. By

hearing different reactions from several Dersons, an indi-

vidual can speed up his acquisition of new behaviors.

Alberti and Emmuons (1975) see a broader base for social

modeling, since each individual sees several others learning

to act assertively, thus he is able to learn from the par-

ticular strengths and weaknesses of the other trainees. The

group also provides a powerful source of social reinforce-

ment. Knowing that the others are expecting active effort

toward more assertiveness, each member is stimulated to

greater achievement than if he were acting solely on his

own. Accordingly, the group provides social approval for

new efforts toward the appropriate expression of feelings.

Empirical findings -- case histories. Stevenson (1959)

treated 21 patients with assertive training, and 12 of the

21 patients remained much improved after a one-year follow-

up. Stevenson and Walpe (1960) treated three sexually devi-

ant males with assertive training. Each of the patient's

deviant sexual behavior was replaced by heterosexual behavior

after varying amounts of therapy.

Lazarus and Serber (1968) presented two case histories

in which desensitization was ineffective. One involved a

husband who would either withdraw or become violent when he

received criticism from his wife. In the other case, a de-

pressed female has helped in seeking employment. Assertive

training proved to be effective in both instances.

Cautela (1966) described three cases of individual

treatment for clients suffering from pervasive anxiety.

The cases involved a young girl fearful of people; a woman

who was having problems with her parents and had problems

related to sex and criticism; and a middle-aged man who was

dominated by his wife and was sexually impotent. All three

clients improved as a result of assertive training and other

forms of treatment.

Lazarus (1971) described three clients who improved

after assertive training. In the first case, a lawyer was

given training not how to verbally attack, but rather to

express his feelings openly and honestly. The second

client was a depressed housewife who received what Lazarus

called "rehearsal desensitization" in which the anxious

housewife was able to practice new behavior according to a

graduate hierarchy. In the third case, a female client

was given help in expressing anger which reduced her de-

pression and also in expressing positive feelings. Lazarus

termed this last treatment "training in emotional freedom."

Other case studies showing improvement with assertive

training have been demonstrated by MacPherson (1972), Edwards

(1972), Goldstein, Serber,and Piaget (1970), Patterson (1972),

Serber and Nelson (1971) and Rathus et al., (1972) with a

variety of clients ranging from hospitalized schizophrenics

to homosexual pedophiliacs.

Experimental results for individual treatment. Lazarus

(1966), in a classic case, compared behavior rehearsal, non-

directed therapy and advice-giving in effecting behavior

change. A maximum of four 30 minute sessions were devoted

to each treatment condition. The criterion for change was

objective evidence that the patient was behaving adaptively

in an area that had previously constituted a problem. The

results reported by Lazarus showed that 32% improved with

reflection-interpretation, 44% improved with advice-giving,

while 92% or 23 out of 25 clients improved with behavior

rehearsal. Since Lazarus served as the therapist in all

three conditions, there is the possibility of experimenter

bias. Yet, according to theoretical grounds, Lazarus pre-

dicted the superiority of behavior rehearsal and the evi-

dence does appear overwhelming. Lazarus quotes Strum, who

indicated that behavior rehearsal has advantages over tra-

ditional therapy in that it (1) generates vivid, life-like

behavior and cues, thereby maximizing the utility of re-

sponse and stimulus generalization; (2) conditions a total

behavior response, rather than one merely verbal; and (3)

dispenses the powerful reinforcement of enacted models and

other characters who in real life or fantasy have already

dispensed reinforcement.

Friedman (1968) assigned nonassertive college students

to one of six treatment conditions, with different combina-

tions of directed role playing with or without a script, and

observing or not observing confederates going through the

script. The criterion measured was the subject's assertive-

ness while another individual attempted to interfere with

the subject's effort at putting together a puzzle. The main

finding was that subjects who first observed the interaction

modeled, and then role played it themselves, showed the

greatest improvement.

Lawrence (1970) used female college students in three

different treatment conditions. The first group learned

how to express honest disagreement via behavior rehearsal.

The second group received explanation on the value of

assertive behavior. The third group received the oppor-

tunity to express disagreement, while the experimenter re-

flected back the subjects' response. The results indicated

the behavior rehearsal group showed the greatest change in

ability to disagree, which persisted through a two week


Lawrence (1970) also measured subjects' ability to

agree. The treatment showed no great change on this mea-

sure. Lawrence extrapolated that if a therapist wishes

to increase assertiveness in a particular area, the maximum

attention should be on practicing in this area. Rimm and

Masters similarly (1974) believe that assertiveness does

not manifest itself as a broad trait and elevating asser-

tiveness in one class of situation should not be expected

to increase assertiveness in situations markedly different.

McFall and Marston (1970) compared behavior rehearsal

and behavior rehearsal plus performance feedback with two

control procedures (no treatment and placebo therapy) in

nonassertive college students. Using a role playing task

as one of the pre and postdependent measures, it was found

that both behavioral rehearsal treatments were superior to

control procedures. Although the addition of performance

feedback led to the strongest effects, behavior rehearsal

with performance feedback was not significantly better than

behavior rehearsal alone.

In a subsequent analogue study, McFall and Lillesand

(1971) compared the effects of overt rehearsal with model-

ing and coaching, covert rehearsal with modeling and coach-

ing, and assessment placebo control using unassertive college

students. Again, both behavioral groups were superior to

the controls, but the greatest change in self-report and

behavioral laboratory measures were evidenced by subjects

engaged in covert rehearsal. For this study and that by

McFall and Marston (1970), telephone follow-ups were con-

ducted. In the former, a confederate attempted to persuade

the subject to subscribe to magazines, while in the latter

study, the subject was requested to stuff envelopes for three

hours. The results paralleled the main findings, but the

effects were quite weak. In four cases the subjects ex-

plicitly stated that they believed the call was related

to the experiment and their responses were excluded from

the analysis.

Young, Rimm,anid Kennedy (1973) assigned female sub-

jects to one of four groups. This first group received

assertive training where the subject modeled a response

after the experimenter's response. The second group re-

ceived the same training and also received praise from the

experimenter. The third group received placebo treatment

and the fourth served as nontreated controls. Both asser-

tive groups showed a greater increase in assertiveness when

tested in situations that were identical to training.

For test situations that differed from training con-

ditions, subjects in one assertive condition made weak

generalizations, while subjects in the other assertive

condition failed to make generalizations.

Gormally, Hill, Otis,and Rainey (1975) evaluated a

microtraining approach for training situationally non-

assertive clients in assertive expression. The procedure

included individualized training situations and a test of

generalization. The clients rated themselves on a scale

for untightness and effectiveness. Two assertive train-

ing situations (videotaped feedback versus trainer feedback)

and a control situation were compared. Both treatment con-

ditions produced more behavioral change than the no treat-

ment control, and the two treatments did not significantly

differ. The researchers also found that the assertion skills

produced on one area did not carry over into other areas, and

concluded that the skills of assertion are not difficult to

master, but they apparently require sufficient practice in a

variety of situations to be incorporated into a person's

style of life.

Experimental results for group treatment. Recently

several studies are reported that examine the effectiveness

of assertive procedures applied to groups of subjects. In

one such study, Lamont, Gilner, Spector,and Skinner (1969)

divided V.A. Hospital inpatients into two groups, an asser-

tive training group and an insight oriented group. Each

group met 5 days a week, 1-1/2 hours per day, for 6 weeks.

Assertion training consisted of mostly role playing various

situations with coaching from the therapist. Patients were

given scripts and took turns modeling behavior. The re-

sults showed a great decrease in "pathology" as demonstrated

on the clinical scales of the MMPI for the assertive group

with no significant changes for the insight oriented group.

Rathus (1972) chose female subjects from social psy-

chology classes who indicated that they would like to be

more bold, aggressive, and outgoing in social situations and

less fearful of social confrontation. One group received

assertive training, another group discussed fears and re-

lated problems, and several other women received no treat-

ment. Assertive training groups received training in nine

different assertive tasks. Those women receiving assertive

training reported significantly greater gains in assertive

behavior than control subjects and showed a trend to ex-

hibit more assertive behavior than did women in other groups.

They also reported significantly greater general fear re-

duction than control subjects and tended to report greater

reduction of fear of social criticism and fear of social

competence than did women in other groups.

Hedquist and Weinhold (1970) compared the effectiveness

of group behavior rehearsal with a social learning approach.

The behavior rehearsal group received role playing with cor-

rective feedback, coaching and modeling. The social learn-

ing group worked on problem solving. The measure of thera-

peutic effectiveness was the subject's own report of the

frequency of verbal assertive responses occurring in vivo.

The results were that both groups showed greater improve-

ment than a control group, though after a six week follow-

up the differences between the treatment groups and controls

were no longer statistically significant.

Johnson, Tyler, Thomson,and Jones (1971) compared

systematic desensitization and assertive training in the

treatment of speech-anxious eighth graders. The group

receiving assertive training was required to give short

talks which were audiotaped and immediately played back,

after which the subject re-presented the talk. Both groups

showed improvement on a measure of speech anxiety, and there

was no significant difference between the two groups.

Sarason (1968) employed behavior rehearsal for juvenile

delinquents in dealing with relevant tasks (such as applying

for employment and talking with teachers and parole officers).

Another group had appropriate behaviors described but not en-

acted, and a third group served as a no treatment control.

The main results were that in terms of staff ratings and rat-

ings of review boards, as well as attitudinal measures, the

behavior rehearsal group showed the greatest improvement,

followed by the group receiving a description, followed by

the controls.

In a preliminary investigation, Rimm, Keyson and

Hunziker (1971) presented six one-hour assertive train-

ing sessions to a small group of adult males confined to

a mental hospital primarily because of antisocial aggres-

sion. A second, attention-placebo group also received six

hours of treatment that consisted of reflection and advice

giving upon the expression of anger. In terms of labora-

tory ratings of the subjects' assertiveness (as opposed to

aggressiveness or timidity), the assertive group showed

greater assertion, and informal observation by ward per-

sonnel and relatives tended to support the view that the

assertion group showed less hostility and aggression than

the controls.

Galassi, DeLo, G~alissi,and. Bastien (1974) found that

college students scoring low on a measure of assertiveness

selected adjectives on an adjective checklist that indicated

a negative self-evaluation, a tendency to be oversolicitous

of emotional support from others, and excessive interpersonal

anxiety. Students who scored high on the other hand, were

expressive, spontaneous, well defended, achievement oriented,

able to influence others, concerned with heterosexual relation-

ships, and confident.

Galassi, Galassi,and Litz (1974), in an analogue study,

investigated the effectiveness of a total assertion training

package with nonassertive college students. Experimental

subjects received eight training sessions consisting of

videotape, modeling, behavior rehearsal, video, peer and

trainer feedback, bibliotherapy, homework assignments,

trainer exhortation, and peer group support. Control sub-

jects were given no treatment. All subjects were posttaped

enacting role playing situations. Significant differences

were found on the College Self Expression Scale, the Sub-

jective Unit of Disturbance Scale, and on several behavioral

dependent variables favoring the assertive training group.

McFall and Twentyman (1973) conducted four experiments

on the relative contribution of rehearsal, modeling, and

coaching to assertion training.

Experiment 1 examined the effects of six treatment

conditions: (1) rehearsal, modeling, coaching; (2) rehearsal

and modeling; (3) rehearsal and coaching; (4) rehearsal

only; (5) modeling and coaching; (6) control. Subjects

received two 45-minute sessions. The results showed that

rehearsal and coaching on assertive behavior both were

effective and these effects were independent and additive.

Audio modeling added very little to successful treatment.

In Experiment 2 three treatments were investigated:

(1) covert rehearsal, modeling, coaching; (2) covert re-

hearsal, coaching; (3) covert rehearsal only. Again, model-

ing added little to the increase in assertiveness gained by

rehearsal and coaching.

Experiment 3 compared new audio models who were less

extreme in their responses than the old audio models. Also

overt and covert rehearsal were compared under several con-

ditions. The results still supported the finding that audio-

modeling did not add to successful treatment effects. Also

no differences were found between covert and overt rehearsal.

Experiment 4 compared audio and audio-visual modeling.

The results demonstrated that the addition of a visual com-

ponent failed to enhance treatment effects in any detectable

way. In conclusion, experiments 1 and 2 revealed that re-

hearsal and coaching accounted for virtually all the treat-

ment variance in these particular experiments. Yet the re-

search failed to explain why observational modeling added

little to the other two components.

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