Relationships for Growth and Learning (RfGL) is a peer play psychotherapy (PPP) intervention which uses peer relationships as a therapeutic tool to enhance children's academic, social, cognitive and emotional functioning in support of school readiness. The PPP involves 60-minute play sessions 2x a week with 2 to 5 children and one therapist. The group play setting enables children to witness and experience a range of emotional reactions on the part of an attuned therapist as well as their peers, expanding opportunities for relatedness and emotional regulation. The major aim of the therapy is to help children who may have insufficient family support systems to develop attachments with peers that will lead to the capacity for healthy friendships and relationships throughout life. Children are referred for treatment based primarily on in-school observations by RfGL therapists. Information provided by parents, teachers, and other school staff is also considered.
The research group is part of a larger lab effort to evaluate the efficacy of the RfGL treatment. Methods used involve parent and teacher questionnaires, a mentalization based story (Frog Story Task) read between the child and researcher as compared to the child and their primary caretaker, a Delay of Gratification Task, a Peer Daly of Gratification Task, and a Peer Co-Construction Task. Children are assessed at two time points; one at baseline and one after a year of treatment. Data was collected from 4 different head start centers including 3 that offer the therapy, and 1 that has the same population of children but does not offer the therapy. This sample is comprised of nearly 174 clinical, low-income, ethnically diverse children between the ages of 3 and 5.