Working for many years as both a play therapist and in a national suicide prevention role, KidsXpress founder Margo Ward saw first-hand how unresolved childhood trauma could lead to much greater social and psychological problems in adulthood.
But when traumatised children were given the creative and emotional resources to work through problems as they arose, she also saw they were able to turn these challenges into opportunities, building strength, resilience and other life skills that would benefit them into adulthood.
These experiences and observations were supported by international academic research, and led to Margo establishing the KidsXpress program in 2006 – to change the life trajectory for children in need.
The program itself is a world-first, combining music, art, drama and play therapies into a group therapy model for children. Following the success of the early programs, KidsXpress has continued to develop so that it is now able to help change the lives of more than 300 families each year.
KidsXpress works to transform some of society’s most vulnerable members, intervening early to improve children’s emotional wellbeing, potentially breaking a cycle of trauma, and giving children a better chance to achieve their potential.
The sorts of changes we see in children completing our program can transform their young lives – and these changes ripple through children’s families, classrooms and beyond into the wider community.
In June 2015 KidsXpress embarked upon an extensive research project to collect evidence to demonstrate the outcomes and impact of the unique KidsXpress therapy program.
KidsXpress explored the impact of its program on the personal and interpersonal development of clients, recognising the interconnection of the two. Measures were devised to track the development of group and individual change via multiple points of collection across the program. A mixed-method approach was employed for this research investigation. Pre- and post- quantitative measures of children’s psychosocial well-being were complemented with qualitative responses from Parents/Carers and Therapist session notes.
Psychosocial well-being was measured through conferred therapist ratings at the start of the program. Subsequent weekly ratings were recorded for both group and individual scales. Group development was scored using MacKenzie’s (1983) Group Climate Questionnaire – a widely utilised and validated measure of group development. Individual functioning was also measured on a 7-point Likert scale, which quantifies eight key transformation Indicators (KTI) of psychosocial well-being: (A) Self-awareness; (B) Expression of feelings & emotions; (C) Connection to others; (D) Recognition of self impacting others; (E) Understanding others; (F) Self-regulation; (G) Receptive communication; (H) Ability to work in a group. Parents/Carers and Referrers completed written questionnaires either online or by hand. These tools measured Parents/Carers’ perceptions of change in their children’s well-being, behaviour, emotional expression and social functioning.
This study comprised 126 participants in the age range of 4-12 years of age. Informed consent and pre-therapy assessment was achieved for all 126 participants. Mean age of participants was 9.4 years. 59.5% were male and 40.5% were female.
Group and Individual Development
Pre and post transformation indicators indicate a positive change in all of the eight individual indicators of well-being, with an average positive change of 0.625 (p=>0.05).
Group data demonstrates significant change on the Engagement and Avoidance scales. Conflict decreases but not significantly. MacKenzie (1983) indicated that social development does not require Engagement and Conflict to be oppositional, suggesting groups may be engaged and in conflict concomitantly.
Parents/Carers completed measures pre and post- therapy, and also provided qualitative feedback. Outcomes reported by Parents/Carers include: Enhanced Family Happiness; Improved Family Communication; Better Emotional Well-being.
The detailed analysis of the findings suggests that participation in the Co-Led Group Expressive Therapy Program leads to wide-reaching positive outcomes for psychosocial well-being. These findings corroborate the independent efficacy study conducted by Deloitte Access Economics (2015), which found significant enhancements in children’s and families well-being as a result of participation in the KidsXpress therapeutic intervention.
MacKenzie, K. R. (1983). The clinical application of a Group Climate measure. In R. R. Dies and, K. R. MacKenzie (Eds.), Advances in group psychotherapy: Integrating research and practice, pp. 159-170. New York: International Universities Press.
The KidsXpress ‘Village’ is our support network of all groups that help us make change for the better. Each of these stakeholders makes a valuable contribution through their time, their knowledge and skills, or their financial generosity.
As our village grows, we’ll continue to welcome people from across Australia and around the world.
While each member of our Board of Directors brings their own unique experience and expertise to the organisation, they all share the same commitment to and belief in the work that KidsXpress is doing. This helps ensure we maintain the highest level of ethics and compliance in all of our practices. All KidsXpress Board members freely contribute their time and governance to the organisation.
We want you to meet our team of therapists who run the KidsXpress Therapy Program. They are responsible for delivering and continuing to develop our amazing program.
Since inception, KidsXpress has established a strong community of referrers who work closely with us to support our clients through the KidsXpress journey and beyond. Our ever growing lists of referrers includes…
KidsXpress is very proud of our Ambassasors who support our work, and share our commitment to giving kids the best possible opportunity to realise their potential. We are honoured to be working with these smart, engaged and committed people, who share our vision and lend their voices to our cause.
Our client families play a pivotal role in the therapeutic process at KidsXpress. With strong commitment and communication, the families not only support the therapeutic process but often extend their own community to include other families who are sharing their KidsXpress journey.
We love hearing a child’s outlook has improved – it’s why we’re here. And to make sure we are getting the results we’re aiming for, we ask for feedback throughout as well as after the program from the children, their families, referrers as well as other members of our ‘Village’.
Continued feedback is encouraged and is ultimately the best way for us to determine our effectiveness long after a child has completed the program. Here are some of the things we’ve heard recently:
To determine the efficacy of our program we use a combination of established and original research tools.
We investigate the impact of the program from several different viewpoints – the eyes of the child, the family, the referrer and the therapy team. Data collection begins before the child enters the program, throughout the 10 weeks of the program itself and for more than a year afterwards. Following that, ongoing qualitative and quantitative research as well as anecdotal feedback helps gauge the long-term efficacy.
In June 2015 KidsXpress embarked upon an extensive research project to collect evidence demonstrating the outcomes and impact of the unique KidsXpress therapy program.