Parents Experiences of Their Adolescents Mental Health Treatment

by Jennifer Brown

Institution: University of New South Wales
Year: 2017
Keywords: Mental Health; Adolescent; Parent
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2188316
Full text PDF: http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/58529


This research explores parents experiences of their childs treatment in an adolescent mental health service in Sydney, Australia. Select research suggests that parents are pivotal in finding help for their vulnerable child and supporting the consequent mental health treatment. It is surprising however, that there is a gap in the literature in relation to parents experience of their involvement in their young persons treatment. In this study, a qualitative grounded methodological approach provided a framework within which to explore parents experiences of their involvement (or lack thereof) in their childs treatment. A purposive sample of fourteen sets of parents participated in this research. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews at three points including treatment commencement, discharge, and six months following discharge. Data from interviews were thematically analysed. Clinician feedback and case records were also analysed alongside the parent data to provide a comprehensive overview of parental involvement in the treatment. The strongly emergent themes were the relationship between parents hope (a sense of achieving the goal of improvements for the child) and agency (a parents belief in their capacity to influence their childs wellbeing). Parents, who remained more passive in expecting expert helpers to fix their child, experienced reduced hope months after finishing the program. When parents positively changed their interaction with their child they felt a more sustained hopefulness (agency-based hope). These findings provide evidence that, if parents are actively involved in changing themselves as part of their childs treatment (agency), they experience increased effectiveness in dealing with their child, and as a consequence, increased hope for their childs improvement. A number of intersecting themes emerge under this overarching narrative regarding where parents hope is invested and how it develops or diminishes during the course of treatment and beyond. Discussion focusses on therapeutic approaches that foster a strong alliance with parents, while also assisting them to address any family functioning factors that may be a part of the childs difficulties. This research can contribute to improving engagement with parents as part of the mental health treatment offered to their child.Advisors/Committee Members: Breckenridge , Jan, Social Work, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, UNSW, James, Kerrie, Social Work, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, UNSW.