Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Katy Tresco, PhD

Second Advisor

Terri Erbacher, PhD

Third Advisor

Deborah Nelson, PhD


This study examined the knowledge of school personnel regarding risk and protective factors, the four-function model, assessment, and treatment of school refusal behavior. This study also explored the perceptions of school personnel regarding the understanding of school refusal behavior as an emotional condition versus its being delinquent behavior and the climate of understanding at their work setting. Two hundred, ninety-six mental health and non-mental professionals who currently work in school settings across the United States participated in this study by completing an online survey pertaining to this topic. Results indicate that mental health professionals demonstrated a higher level of knowledge than non-mental health professionals regarding risk factors and protective factors. School personnel from both groups demonstrated limited knowledge of the four-function model of school refusal behavior. School personnel from both groups perceived differences, emotionally and behaviorally, between students who demonstrated emotionally-based school refusal behavior and delinquent behaviors. There were inconsistent results regarding school climate as school personnel indicated that students from either group were treated the same, although school personnel from the both groups indicated that staff were supportive of students by helping determine their reasoning for being absent and understanding financial difficulties and a lack of resources they may be facing. Mental health professionals demonstrated adequate knowledge of assessment and treatment modality of school refusal behavior and limited knowledge of effective counseling strategies. Based on this information, school personnel should receive additional training and professional development, especially in the areas of the four-function model and treatment of school refusal behavior.

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