Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This study examined clinicians' perceptions of changes in family dynamics post discharge of a psychiatrically hospitalized child. The ways in which clinicians assessed and assisted parents was also explored. Interviews were conducted with twelve home-based clinicians who presented one case involving a hospitalized child, the changes in family dynamics they observed, and what treatment interventions were used. The findings showed that eleven out of the twelve children were hospitalized due to aggressive behavior (yelling, throwing objects, pushing) and that they remained hospitalized for one week to three months. Clinicians found that the majority of parents experienced relief during the hospitalization, due to the reduction in stress and negative behaviors in the home. Along with this relief, clinicians reported that many parents experienced guilt both in thinking they have caused their child's hospitalization and for feeling relieved that the child is out of the home. Once the child returned home, clinicians reported that overall family functioning improved for most families, yet for some this improvement did not last long and families returned to their old ways of functioning. Clinicians used psychoeducation, contracting for safety, and teaching coping skills as an intervention to help the family stabilize. The results of this study lend support to home-based therapists working with families who have experienced the hospitalization of a child. Also the treatment methods used by clinicians can be applied as a treatment model for working with this population.


Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2008. iii, 100 p. Includes bibliographical references (p. 92-94)