As providers of behaviour therapy for children here at Portland Practice, it interested us to read recently that children themselves are by no means the only direct beneficiaries of such a service. New research has indicated that such therapy for kids with autism can have positive effects well beyond the child, especially for parents who play an active role in treatment.

‘Become more aware of their parenting’

Findings recently published online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders indicate that mothers and fathers who participate in cognitive behaviour therapy with their autistic children experience improvements in their own levels of depression and emotion regulation. Such services also enabled them to engage in more mindful parenting.

Working on the study was Jonathan Weiss of York University in Toronto, Canada, who observed: “The research showed that parents improved their abilities to handle their own emotions and to see themselves in a more positive light. It helped them to become more aware of their parenting and all of the good they do as parents.”

The value of not isolating parents from their children in treatment

The study involved researchers following the parents of 57 children with autism, aged between 8 and 12, who participated in therapy sessions with their son or daughter where they played the role of co-therapists alongside a professional. With the parents having completed surveys before and after the treatment, their responses were then compared to those of Mums and Dads who had not taken part.

“Most of the time when parents bring in their kids for cognitive behaviour therapy, they are in a separate room learning what their children are doing, and are not being co-therapists,” Weiss observed. “What’s unique about what we studied is what happens when parents are partners in the process from start to finish. Increasingly we know that it’s helpful for kids with autism, specifically, and now we have proven that it’s helpful for their parents too.”

Such findings – although preliminary – serve as a useful reminder to parents of the extent to which they could benefit from behaviour therapy for children like that provided by suitably qualified and experienced professionals from a reputable psychotherapy services provider such as Portland Practice. Enquire now for a consultation in relation to behaviour therapy for your children that gives you, the parent, a central role.