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01-08-2013 | Original Paper | Uitgave 6/2013

Journal of Child and Family Studies 6/2013

Therapist, Parent, and Youth Perspectives of Treatment Barriers to Family-Focused Community Outpatient Mental Health Services

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 6/2013
Mary J. Baker-Ericzén, Melissa M. Jenkins, Rachel Haine-Schlagel


This exploratory qualitative study describes treatment barriers to receiving family-focused child mental health services for youths with disruptive behavior problems from multiple perspectives. Data were collected during a series of focus groups and interviews, including: 4 therapist focus groups (n = 26), 3 parent focus groups (n = 14), and 10 youth (10–13 years) semi-structured interviews. Data analysis followed inductive, iterative processes typical of qualitative research using an editing style and thematic content analysis approach. Therapist, parent, and youth stakeholder participants discussed perceived barriers to effective treatment, the problems with current child outpatient therapy, and desired changes (i.e., policy, intervention, etc.) to improve mental health services. Results indicate similar themes around treatment barriers and dissatisfaction with services within and across multiple stakeholder groups, including inadequate service system support, lack of family involvement and feeling overwhelmed with the complexities of families’ needs; however, parents and therapists, in particular, identified different contributing factors to these barriers. Therapists highly endorse using family-focused therapy and desire parent participation; however, parents feel unsupported by their child’s therapist. Parents’ report feeling blamed and not heard by service providers which negatively impacts their attitude about service delivery, causing discomfort and resistance to participation in their youth’s treatment. Youth also discussed dissatisfaction with mental health services, specifically related to their direct experiences in therapy, and desired more active, directive family-focused approaches. Overall, stakeholders reported much frustration and dissatisfaction with current community-based outpatient child therapy services. Study findings can inform service provision, intervention development, and future research.

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