“Lots of Prayer, Lots of Emotional Coaching, and Pray it Works out the Best”: Tuning in to Kids in a Rural Appalachian Community

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Rural Americans face barriers in access to services such as psychoeducation programs. The purpose of this study was to describe how participants in a rural Appalachian community, a geographic location that has been largely underrepresented in the literature, responded to a psychoeducation program about parents’ facilitation of children’s emotional competence. The Tuning in to Kids (TiK) parent education program focuses on improving parents’ awareness of children’s emotions, their ability to promote children’s developing emotional competence, and the strength of the parent– child bond. This work has shown beneficial effects in Australia, yet research is scarce regarding implementation in the United States, particularly with rural populations. The TiK program was delivered in 2 groups of 6 sessions each, with 2 participants in the first group and 7 participants in the second group. To analyze session transcripts, we employed discourse analysis methods from multiple disciplines, including thematic coding, linguistic analysis, and sociocultural analysis. Overall, our interdisciplinary analysis allowed us to draw conclusions about unique ways that both participants and the facilitator contributed to group success. Key results included the emergence of 4 major themes: participants’ questioning/adopting TiK methods, parental support across participants, facilitator’s leveling the hierarchy, and facilitator self-disclosure. Findings support the utility of an interdisciplinary approach to examining parent education in rural Appalachia, a population that is underrepresented in the literature. Further, our findings support parents’ openness to psychoeducation in this community, as well the effectiveness of the facilitator’s integration of locally-relevant content throughout the program.