What are the challenges that individuals face with the return of their at-risk children.
1.2 Research Question
What is the experience of parents when their mentally challenged, at-risk child between ages 17 to 20 years of age returns home from a long-term residential treatment center after a minimum of two years?
1.3 Proposed Dissertation Title:
Parents’ experience when a child returns home after a long-term stay at a residential treatment center
1.4 Research Topic:
Parents often face a serious challenge when they have to deal with the return of their children from treatment facilities that are associated with cases of mental disorders. In many cases, the parents experience challenges with their health, anxiety, lifestyle, and jobs because they anticipate a repeat performance from the child. The paper seeks to inform individuals in the field of general psychology about the challenges that these parents face. In addition, the writer will focus on children who have mental challenges and how the parents have to adjust to their return from long-term residential centers. The parents often have to contend with the anxiety they face as many of these parents believe that they cannot handle the child’s disorders in most appropriate ways. The paper will present an in-depth analysis of the rich experience from a selected number of parents and their perspective on the phenomena of at-risk children and the impact it has on parents’ experiences. The researcher hopes to provide a solid foundation for future researchers and psychologists who seek to develop treatment and treatment plans that includes parents or other caregivers in the treatment process.
But, general psychological treatment can help parents to go through their experiences in a positive way. A few studies show that parents need therapy or counseling on how to cope with the return of these children. In fact, there is no doubt that many parents would harbor fear because of previous experiences with the at-risk child. A number of parents do not know how to cope with the return of their children and they are not aware that there certain types of behavior that must be avoided at all costs. If parents are not made aware of the negative behaviors that they display then there is the likelihood that the child will regress into the previous behavior. In addition, parents may become frustrated as they are not aware of what is causing the regression and they may become violent towards the child. At present, there is a limit to the amount of programs that are available to help parents to deal with the experience of child who is at risk and even to understand that they need to treat this return in a particular manner. It is hoped that the findings from this research will help those in the field of psychology and even parents who cannot handle their at risk child, to be better able to understand the seriousness of dealing with those who return home after a period of time. Parents face the natural anxiety and have a positive experience with at-risk children. In fact, some parents will honestly say that the absence of the child was better as they do not know how to deal with the mental problems of the child. These parents do not know how to react to the fact that the child has returned to the source of the problem or the origin of the at-risk behavior, (Preyde et al., 2011). The purpose of this research is to help parents to cope with the experience of children returning to their natural homes after having spent time in treatment facilities. The research will give an indication of the different ways that parents can deal with the return of their child through the use of cognitive behavioral therapy and psychoanalytic treatments. In cognitive behavioral therapy parents will learn to understand the behaviors that come with mental illness and the experience of dealing with the child becomes easier. Psychoanalytic treatment helps the parents to relive the previous experiences and try to understand or accept the child’s previous behavior that cause him or her to be in a treatment facility. With this treatment the parents new experience will be different as the anticipation of doing something that will trigger the past behavior in the child will automatically change.
1.5 Review of the Researched Literature
In order for a child to be placed in a treatment facility, there must be some amount of information to show that the child is suffering or has suffered from considerable harm and that the parent is no longer able to provide care for the child. The level of risk to the child must be intense and must affect the well – being of the child. Children who suffer from mental health problems are at risk of harming self and others. Many parents cannot handle the role of helping these children who suffer constantly. Therefore, the children are placed in treatment facilities that will help them to deal with the challenges that they face. The harm must be observable or identifiable by the emotional, physical, emotional or psychological that the risk has on the child. A number of psychologists suggest that the harm may have occurred in the past of is currently happening, but either way professional help is required. Additionally, if parents or caregivers realize that there is a chance that the child may hurt self in the future of if there is inadequate protective factors in the home or the community, then the child will be placed in treatment facilities. Many parents do not accept that their children can become unmanageable as every parent wants the “perfect” child, but children do have issues that cannot be handled by the parents alone. In other instances, children can become uncontrollable because of the mental risks that they pose to self and others. In these cases parents may find that they cannot and do not want to attempt to handle this pain of watching their children do harm to self. Of course, these parents are reluctant to send their children to treatment facilities and blame selves for abandoning their children. This blame leads to psychological problems for the parents as well as they have to deal with the guilt that often comes with not having one’s children in one’s care. Arguably, these treatment facilities provide the best care for the child who is at risk.
Anderson – Moore postulates that at risk children reflect those children who have “long-term deficits, such as school failure, death, economic dependency, or incarceration,” (Anderson Moore, 2006). Additionally, Anderson Moore notes that some individuals emphasize that every child is at risk of some form of danger, while some children are more at risk than others because of their heritage or social conditions, (Anderson Moore, 2006). Parents who have these children to contend with in the first instances find it even more challenging to deal with the children after they return from treatment facilities. Children often blame their parents for neglecting them and with the re-integration into the home, the resentment increases over time. This resentment coupled with the risky challenges before leads to more complications and parents are less able to deal with the problems. On the other hand, parents may tend to overcompensate for the time they “lost” with their child and try to make up for the lost time. But, the reality is that the child faces the fragile treatment from their parents and they too cannot handle the situation. As such there are added complications in the home and the children regress into the unwanted behavior. The issue with at-risk children returning to their parents after being in treatment facilities is a cause for concern among a number of psychologists today. The problems lies in the way parents react to the changes or lack of changes in these children. While may say that parents do not need to react negatively to their children, the truth is that nit many parents want to relive the negative experiences they faced prior to the child going into the treatment facilities. Studies show that nearly half of the children who have been abused or neglected are referred to as being at risk children. Some of these children are given the opportunity to get treatment in various facilities while others are not as fortunate. Still, parents who can provide treatment for these children find that when the children return home, they are faced with the problem of being treated poorly by their parents. More importantly, the parents are often not clear on how to deal with these children as they really are not prepared to face the problem.
In fact, Doward suggests that “many returned children are finding their trust in adults shattered by their experiences,” (Doward, 2012). Doward also points to the report in Returning Home From Care, and quotes: “"For too many children, returning home results in further abuse or neglect and often re-entry into care, causing significant long-term harm," (Returning Home From Care, as cited in Doward, 2012). This finding suggests that parents are not able to handle the problems that the child faced in the past and they assume that the problem remains. However, open-minded parents find it easier to deal with these children as they see the child’s return to their care as a positive move. These facilities often return the children when they believe that the child has been treated and the problem is less or removed. But the anxiety and fear remains in these parents. Dr. David Fawcett writes that “as many as one in five children and adolescents may suffer from a mental health disorder, yet there are barriers that often prevent children from receiving optimal treatment,” (Fawcett, 2012). In fact, Preyde et al., suggests that a high level of recidivism is present for the children who are at risk during the first moments of returning from a residential behavior treatment centers and this time will undoubtedly increases by the time the child has been in the home for twelve or twenty-four months, (Preyde, Frensch, Cameron, White, Penny, & Lazur, 2011). The reason for the recidivism is that the child has enough time to slip back into the previous behavior. Many children will face the same or similar problems as they had before, but try to cope on their own. They may fear that they have to return to the treatment facilities and as such they problematic behavior returns. Parents in turn are unable to deal with these problems as the absence of the child in the home for a while, leads to additional distance in the relationship. Arguably, these parents do not “know” these children anymore and therefore they cannot relate to these children.
Studies show that in the state of New York, almost 25% of children have returned to the residential centers within the first twelve months and nearly 47% are returned after 24 months (OCFS, 2011). The reality is that most of these children will return to the previous problems and may also have trouble re-integrating into the homes, especially if other siblings are involved. In addition, Calley suggests that the termination of parental rights and parental history of abuse, (Calley, 2012) leads to regression in these children. The problem of recidivism came out in the study carried out by Mulder, Brand, Bullens, and van Marle in 2010. Lovell suggests that not many studies have been carried out on the large number of patients who are mentally ill and who are in treatment facilities, (Lovell, 2002). Lovell further notes that the risk factors predict new offenses after the child is released from the treatment facilities, (Lovell, 2002). However, parents must recognize the patterns if they are to cope with the return of their children from these treatment facilities. Many parents fear that the child will return to the previous behavior even after being treated in these facilities. But, Lovell suggests that the low rate of serious violence by mentally ill offenders suggests that the risk of violence may be a weak,” (Lovell, 2002) and as such parents do not have to worry about the actions of the child. In the report from, Expanding Juvenile Mental Health Courts in the Children’s System of Care, approximately three million children, or just about twenty percent of the children California will experience some form of mental health disorder in any particular year, (Lovell, 2015).
Recent studies show that one must focus on the reason for the treatment in the first place and as such make efforts to help parents to cope with the psychological impacts that this reintegration into the home has on the child and the society, (Jones, 2013). Behavioural therapy sessions and individual counseling sessions can help to reduce the recidivism for adolescents who have mental disorders and return home after being in treatment facilities, (Fawcett, 2012). Still, studies have shown that individuals who were gradually reintroduced into the home environment were better able to cope with the experience and this created fewer problems for the parents. In contrast, the problem that parents faced stemmed from the fact that the children were forced to reintegrate into their former homes and the parents were not ready to deal with them psychologically, (Ringle, Huefner, James, Pick, and Thompson, 2012). Lee et al carried out a study to determine the impact of children reentering their homes after being in treatment facilities and found that more children were successfully reintegrated into their families after parents received therapy on how to handle the situation, (Lee et al., 2013). Based on the literature collected from other studies, it is clear that parents experience anxiety and stress when their children return from treatment facilities. However, behavioral and cognitive strategies will help the parents to cope more effectively. If the parents really understand the behaviors and reasons for the problem then they will understand that mentally challenged children cannot help but behave the way that they behave. These at risk children can create additional problems for the parents who are already trying to cope with the return of the child. Additionally, the literature for assessing the experiences of coping with at risk-children who have returned from treatment facilities is limited and more research on the topic is needed to help current researcher to assess and eliminate the reasons for parents to be prepared for the experience.
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