Date of Award

August 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Marty Sapp

Committee Members

Kristin Miles, Kelsey Autin, Stephen Wester


Aggression, Clinicians, Intensive Outpatient, Organizational Support, Young Children


This grounded theory qualitative research study examined the experiences of mental health staff who work with aggressive young children under the age of 9. Through the use of semi-structured interviews, participants were asked about individual and organizational aspects that affect the care they provide to young children and their decision to stay with the organization. 14 mental health professionals from five different intensive outpatient programs for youth with behavioral concerns were interviewed. Data were analyzed using Strauss and Corbin’s (1998) three-step data analysis process of open coding, axial coding, and selective coding. In answer to the question “What experiences do mental health professionals have that help or hinder them from providing daily care to aggressive young children?” the themes of “Ability to Conceptualize and Treatment Plan Effectively” and “Our Savior Complex” were found. Themes found to answer the question, “How do organizational aspects affect a mental health professional’s ability to provide quality care to aggressive young children?” include “Logistics,” “Career Opportunities,” “Effective Multidisciplinary Teams,” and “The Role of Management.” The research and conclusions are presented in the form of a novella.