Ashley Welch, Psy.D., is a 2018 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Kathi Borden, PhD, Committee Chair
  • Vincent Pignatiello, PsyD, Committee Member
  • Gloria Kasakov, PsyD, Committee Member


physical restraints, residential facilities, staff and youth perspectives, staff education and training, restraint reduction

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This study was designed to explore how the youth and staff in long term residential treatment experience the use of physical restraints, as well as what they view as essential to reduce the need for these restraints. Youth placed in residential care typically have a history infused with trauma that is often more intense than the general population. As a result, these youth are at risk of engaging in dangerous behaviors that may be deemed demonstrably dangerous, which could warrant the use of a restraint. To date, restraint usage in residential treatment centers has decreased through the following means: (a) debriefing groups for staff, (b) restraint reduction committees, (c) milieu interventions, and (d) resource teams. There are still several unknowns in regards to restraint reduction- for example, how the youth in residential treatment centers believe restraint use could be reduced. This study attempted to fill that gap in the current research by obtaining more information from youth and staff members through semi-structured interviews. Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was utilized to analyze these qualitative data. Overall, participants discussed the need for continued staff training and education, less restrictive interventions, and positive staff qualities. This information can be useful to facilities, programs, and directors in their approach to training staff members. Further research might specify the optimal amount and content of this training.