Background: Fostered children are highly vulnerable to developing emotional and behavioural difficulties, due to early adverse experiences they have often endured. Successful foster care placements can provide a safe base and an opportunity for developing secure attachments, which in turn can aid emotional recovery. Though we are aware that positive carer-child interactions are central to placement success and the longevity of carers in the profession, we know little about the factors that influence carer responsiveness to children. Aims: This study investigated whether carers’ emotional distress, emotion regulation (ER) strategies, and their caregiver responsibilities (i.e., how many young people they care for) were associated with responsiveness to child distress. In addition, we explored whether ER is associated with carer distress (depression, anxiety and stress) in order to understand how these factors interrelate. Method: Eighty-six foster carers of children aged 4-12 years old, were recruited online and via posters to complete an online questionnaire battery about their emotional distress, ER strategies, caregiver response styles and various characteristics associated with care. Results: Carers with higher levels of distress (depression, anxiety and stress) were less likely to show supportive (emotional and problem-focused) responses. In addition, carers with more children to look after were less likely to encourage a distressed child to express themselves. Carer ER style was not significantly associated with carer mental health, nor with carer responsiveness. Conclusion: Findings suggest the importance of supporting carer well-being, both for the child and carers’ benefit, and for the success of placements and the continued profession.
Doctorate in Clinical Psychology: Main Research Portfolio: 1) Critical Review of the Literature: How well do voice-hearing assessment measures capture the positive experiences of individuals? A systematic review of published assessment measures; 2) Service Improvement Project: Mindfulness for mixed presentations across the lifespan: evaluating and improving the Mindful Life group using Thematic Analysis; 3) Main Research Project: Exploring factors that influence foster carer responsiveness to children: carer emotional distress, emotion regulation and placement arrangements.
Armstrong, L. (Author). 16 Sep 2019
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis › PhD