Denise Jaimes-Villanueva is a 2012 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Santa Barbara.


Council, Circle, group process, middle school, early adolescents, educational programs, qualitative, grounded theory, structured interview, narrative

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Throughout history, attempts have been made to influence children’s social behavior through programs and policies in schools. While well-intentioned, such programs are sometimes introduced and perpetuated without evidence about whether they fulfill their goals and objectives. Council is a program that has been implemented in schools since 1980 to foster tolerance and social connection. The Center for Council Training started more than 50 programs in California, Arizona, Washington, Colorado, New York, and Israel. The Council Practitioners Center started to integrate Council into schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and has a goal of expanding Council throughout California and other states. Council is a type of group communication intended to encourage students to share stories that may lead to processing conflict, inspiration, skilled decision making, improvement in academics, and stronger relationships with others. These goals are based on the principles of deep listening and sharing in Council. This qualitative study represents an initial effort to explore the impact of Council on early adolescent children ages 11-13 years old. Nine middle school students were interviewed. Core findings included: (a) Council provides a safe environment in which one is able to share emotional and personal stories that promote healthy relationships, (b) Council is a positive experience for participants promoting an optimistic outlook on life and (c) Council promotes self-identity formation through fostering personal growth and valuing of life. Implications for further research and possible benefits of this study are discussed. The electronic version of this dissertation is available free at Ohiolink ETD Center, www.