Understanding conduct disorder: The ways in which mothers attempt to make sense of their children's behaviour

Rhiannon Lewis, Vikky Petch, Naomi Wilson, Simone Fox, Catrina Craig

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'Disruptive behaviour disorders’ are the most common reason for referral to CAMHS (Puckering, 2009). Current treatment guidelines focus on parent training programmes (NICE, 2006; CYP IAPT, 2012). Difficulties are often reported when engaging families, with parental attributions and attitudes towards help-seeking proposed as influential factors (Morrissey-Kane & Prinz, 1999; Kane et al., 2007). Previous research has tended to privilege pre-existing frameworks; this study utilised qualitative methods to add to the current understanding of the ways in which parents make sense of their children’s behaviour. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with six mothers, recruited through CAMHS. IPA revealed four master themes: ‘Looking for an answer’, ‘The emotional experience of being a parent’, ‘Trying to get help’ and ‘…a long, long road…’ Participants used a variety of frameworks in order to make sense of their children’s behaviour, including the impact of loss and trauma. Help-seeking was associated with feelings of shame and services were often viewed as inconsistent and stigmatising. In contrast, positive experiences were those which were characterised as being non-judgemental, normalising and took into account the wider family context, including mothers’ own emotional needs. These findings were discussed in relation to existing research and implications for clinical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalClinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2014

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