Parental Experiences of Supporting Children with Clinically Significant Post-Traumatic Distress: a Qualitative Study of Families Accessing Psychological Services
Williamson V., Creswell C., Butler I., Christie H., Halligan SL.
© 2017, The Author(s). The aim of this study was to investigate the experiences of parents in providing support to their child following trauma exposure in cases where children are experiencing clinically significant levels of post-traumatic distress. Qualitative interviews were conducted with parents whose child was exposed to a trauma and referred for psychological treatment. Parents reported considerable anxiety in coping with their child’s post-traumatic distress. Avoidance of trauma-related discussions was encouraged due to concerns that non-avoidant approaches may worsen children’s post-trauma difficulties. Nonetheless, parents were often sensitive to their child’s distress and offered reassurance and other forms of support. Many barriers existed to accessing psychological treatment, and perceptions of inadequate guidance from therapists on supporting child adjustment contributed to parental distress. The results illustrate the strategies used by parents in supporting their child post-trauma and may assist mental health professionals in providing acceptable guidance to parents following child trauma.