Author

Heather Nix

Date Approved

6-25-2012

Date Posted

9-6-2012

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Michelle Byrd, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Alissa Huth-Bocks, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amy Young, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mark Ragg, Ph.D.

Abstract

Little research has investigated the effects of stigma on child psychotherapy. Because parents are a primary factor in determining whether children receive psychotherapy and how therapy progresses, understanding how parental perceptions of psychopathology and psychotherapy are associated with children’s mental health treatment seems to be an important step in investigating how stigma impacts child psychotherapy. Researchers have not closely examined, however, how parents might influence children’s experiences of psychotherapy. To address this topic, the current study examined how parents’ views of psychotherapy were related to how they prepared their children for psychotherapy and how this preparation was related to children’s views of psychotherapy. Primary hypotheses were that parental views would be positively related to children’s views and that preparation would mediate the relationship between parental views and children’s views. Participants were 49 parent-child dyads with a child (aged 9-14 years) who was scheduled for his or her first therapy session. According to results, parent and child views of therapy were not significantly related in this sample, and parents’ views about therapy were not significantly related to the preparation that they provided to their children. Support was provided, however, for the idea that how parents prepare their children for therapy could be related to children’s views about therapy. Data also were useful in providing an idea of how parents prepare their children for therapy and how parents and children experience the first therapy session. The implications of these results, limitations of the present study, and directions for future research are discussed.

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