Musical Contour Regulation Facilitation (MCRF) to Support Emotion Regulation Development in Preschoolers: A Mixed Methods Feasibility Study
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Emotion regulation (ER) is the ability for a person to maintain a comfortable state of arousal by controlling and shifting his or her emotional experiences and expressions. The emergence of maladaptive ER occurs in childhood and is one characteristic often shared by several disorders. Maladaptive ER can significantly affect multiple areas in child development, such as the ability to learn in school, form and maintain healthy relationships with peers and adults, and manage and inhibit behavioral responses. Interventions for children at-risk for developing maladaptive ER skills are limited and need further exploration. Based on limitations noted in existing treatment options, this study provided a preliminary examination of the utility of using a music-based approach. An embedded convergent mixed methods research design was used to explore the feasibility of a Musical Contour Regulation Facilitation (MCRF) intervention. The MCRF intervention was developed to improve ER abilities in children by providing opportunities to practice real-time management of high and low arousal experiences. Typically developing preschool-aged children (n = 8) participated in 11 MCRF sessions over four weeks. Data to assess ER skills and related behaviors was collected pre- and post-MCRF treatment; current regulatory levels were assessed and self-reported at the beginning and end of each MCRF session. In addition, parent and teacher interviews and questionnaires were conducted post-treatment. Grounded theory-based qualitative analysis results suggest that most parents and both teachers noted emotional changes in the children following MCRF treatment. Perhaps more importantly, all interviewees believed in the importance and helpfulness of music on developmental outcomes even if they did not note changes in the children or they recognized that other factors may have contributed to perceived changes. Quantitative data analysis results indicated clinically significant improvements in ER skills in the children following MCRF treatment. Convergent mixed methods analyses results further support the efficacy and acceptability of the MCRF intervention. Together, these findings endorse future normative and clinical study of the MCRF intervention as way to facilitate ER development, especially as this medium is highly desired by parents and teachers and can be easily integrated in a preschool setting.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Emotion regulation and musical contour regulation facilitation in theory and practice: an integrated literature review -- The effectiveness of MCRF in facilitating emotion regulation: methodology for a feasibility study -- The effectiveness of MCRF in facilitating emotion regulation: mixed methods results -- The feasibility of MCRF in facilitating emotion regulation development in preschoolers: discussion, implications, and recommendations -- Appendix A. Musical contour regulation facilitation (MCRF) intervention manual -- Appendix B. MCRF intervention pilot assessment -- Appendix C. Recruitment materials -- Appendix D. Informed consent and child assent -- Appendix E. Study measures