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Publication Date


Document Type



School for Social Work


War wounds-Psychological aspects, Post-traumatic stress disorder, Families of military personnel-Psychology, Children of military personnel-Psychology, Children of the mentally ill-Counseling of, Post-combat, Injury, Military, Civilian, Families


This mixed-method study explored how military and civilian parents with young children responded to a Sesame Workshop media presentation focused on coping with post-combat injuries. This study also examined if military and civilian parents differed in their level of comfort in discussing illness and injury with young children and attempted to identify parental barriers to talking with young children about illness and injury in military and civilian families. Overall, both military and civilian participants responded positively to the show, and both groups reported increased levels of comfort in talking to their child and helping their child cope with a stressful life-changing event, suggesting that this type of intervention may be beneficial to employ with military families dealing with post-combat injury or illness, as well as civilian families in order to increase their awareness and empathy towards military families. In particular, the findings suggested that the show had greater impact with families dealing with invisible injuries and the show did appear to be more meaningful to parents who were dealing with the issue in the present. This study corroborated existing literature regarding the impact that a parent's own ability to cope has on their ability to help support and meet the needs of their child, as well as supported existing literature on parental barriers to involving children in the process of recovery including denial, uncertainty regarding how to present information in developmentally appropriate ways, and need to focus on own coping. Recommendations suggested to social workers who may work with military families include 1) becoming educated about military culture and the possible stigma associated with receiving mental health services; 2) including a focus on parents' coping into treatment; 3) connecting military families to peer support, and 4) including children in the therapeutic process, so that they feel secure and gain accurate, developmentally appropriate information regarding a parent's illness or injury.




vii, 138 p. Dissertation (Ph.D.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 101-110)