The Relationship Between Parental Support, Parent Emotional Reaction, and Parenting Stress with Children's Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms Following Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cinamon, Julie Shiri
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The reciprocal relationship between parent factors (parental support, parent emotional reaction, and parenting stress) and child symptoms of posttraumatic stress was examined in the current study. Three hypotheses were tested: 1) parents and children interact in a transactional manner through the course of clinical services, 2) change in parental support and parent emotional reaction would be stronger predictors of child symptoms at post-therapy and 6-month follow-up compared to baseline scores, and 3) child and caregiver characteristics would account for the most amount of variance in pre-assessment scores of parental support and parent emotional reaction when compared with abuse characteristics. Method: 115 children with trauma and their non-offending caregivers completed questionnaires. Parents completed the Parental Support Questionnaire, Parent Emotional Reaction Questionnaire, and the Parenting Stress Index. Child symptoms were assessed with the parent report Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children and child report Trauma Symptom Child Checklist. Data collections occurred at pre-assessment, pre-therapy, post-therapy, and 6-month follow-up. Results: No relationship was found between parental support and child symptoms. Parent emotional reaction, parent depression, and parenting competency were related with child symptoms. Parental support did not predict child symptoms. Baseline and post-therapy reports of parent emotional reaction were related to child symptoms. Parental support and parent emotional reaction pre-assessment ratings were only predicted by baseline reports of these factors. Conclusion: The findings with relation to parental support may be an artifact of the data or may support the findings in the broader literature that indicate that parental support is not a reliable indicator of child well-being. A better indicator appears to be parent emotional reaction. This may be due to a spill-over effect of parents emotions on their children which influences their perception of their childs emotional state and/or impacts their child by subtly dictating how a child should react in response to his/her parent. By assessing parent emotional reaction, clinicians can identify important areas for intervention to ensure that parents are supported in their own emotional processing and in their understanding of the links between the parent and child emotional experience and expression of emotions.