Defense Date

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Arnold L. Stolberg

Abstract

Although resilience is the normative psychological outcome of divorce, parents and children of divorce are disproportionately represented in the mental health and legal systems. Due to the great financial and psychological costs of incessant divorce litigation, interventions that promote positive child adjustment while alleviating the costs of litigation are in high demand. Social policymakers and clinicians have responded to this demand via a number of intervention strategies; however, the implementation of many current interventions has predated supporting empirical evidence.The present study seeks to establish the efficacy of a child-focused, intensive co-parenting therapy (ICT) intervention for divorced parents. ICT is a 14-week manualized therapy with an emphasis on communication and problem-solving training using cognitive-behavioral techniques. ICT's impact on legal outcomes (i.e., resolution of custody/visitation disputes, payment of child support, court order compliance, etc.), communication, co-parenting and parenting (i.e., cooperation, hostility), family functioning, and child adjustment (i.e., internalizing and externalizing behavior) was assessed.Participants were five families of divorce who had at least one child aged 11 to 17 and were court-ordered to participate in co-parenting therapy. Three of the families were African-American and two were Caucasian. A single-case research design with replication was employed. Therapeutic success was monitored by a multi-informant approach (parent, teacher, and child) according to a multiple baseline procedure. Communication and legal outcomes were monitored on a weekly basis. Co-parenting and parenting behaviors, family functioning, and child adjustment symptoms were measured at baseline, session 8, and termination.ICT significantly impacted all outcome variables measured, although the clinical significance of that impact varied across domains. ICT had the greatest impact on legal and communication outcome variables. For example, 100% of families in the study resolved at least some portion of their custody and/or visitation disputes; 40% of families dropped their legal dispute entirely. Additionally, all families significantly increased the quality and quantity of their communication. Results in the domains of co-parenting and parenting behaviors, family functioning, and child adjustment, while noteworthy and reflective of positive outcomes, were more varied. Clinical implications of study findings are discussed as they relate to establishing ICT as a possibly efficacious co-parenting intervention.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Psychology Commons

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