Parental Experiences of Supporting Children with Clinically Significant Post-Traumatic Distress: a Qualitative Study of Families Accessing Psychological Services

Victoria Williamson, Cathy Creswell, Ian Butler, Hope Christie, Sarah Halligan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to investigate the expe-riences of parents in providing support to their child followingtrauma exposure in cases where children are experiencingclinically 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 report ed 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 psycho-logical 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-72
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Trauma
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019



  • Childhood
  • Parenting
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Qualitative
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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