Examining Nonspecific Relationship Factors in the Behavioral Treatment of Seriously Emotionally Disturbed (SED) Adolescents: An Interpersonal Communications Approach

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The purpose of this study was to illustrate the utility of applying Kiesler's (1979, 1982) communications theory of interpersonal relationship to school based behavior modification programs designed for seriously emotionally disturbed (SED) adolescents. The extent to which normal (non‐SED) adolescents’ interpersonal styles differ from those related by SED students was assessed using teacher ratings of students on the Interpersonal Check List (Laforge & Suczek, 1955). Results showed that an SED adolescent typically sends Hostile Submissive interpersonal messages to teachers in contrast to normal peers’ Friendly Submissive interactional approach. Implications of these findings for describing nonspecific teacher‐student relationship factors operative in behavior management programs were elaborated.