Katherine F. Walker Abstract
The general purpose of this study was to both evaluate the effectiveness of
filial therapy and describe the filial treatment process with parents court-referred
for maltreatment. In filial therapy, parents learn basic play therapy skills
in a group format that they implement in weekly home play sessions. They then
generalize these skills into their parenting. Three research questions guided
the quantitative portion of this investigation: (1) Is filial therapy effective
at reducing the child abuse potential of parents court-referred for maltreatment?
(2) Is filial therapy effective at reducing parenting stress for parents court-referred
for maltreatment? (3) Is filial therapy effective at strengthening the parent-child
relationship for parents court-referred for maltreatment? Qualitative data about
parents' experience in the filial group was also collected and addressed the
following questions: (1) How does the filial therapy process affect participants?
(2) How does the filial therapy process affect treatment outcome? (3) What changes,
in addition to those measured quantitatively, are reported by parents. The experimental
group participants (n=7) received 8 weeks of filial therapy (modified from Landreth's
(1991) 10-week model) in 1-1/2 hour weekly sessions. The control group (n=5) received
a local agency's standard treatment. Parents completed two instruments, the
Parenting Stress Index (PSI) and the Child Abuse Potential Inventory (CAP).
Analyses of covariance indicated that parents significantly reduced there parenting
stress and strengthened the parent-child relationship. Although parents did
not significantly reduce their child abuse potential in this study, those results
were based on an incomplete analysis. Most of the pre-test CAP scores for parents
in the experimental group (6 of 7) were invalid as a result of excessive "faking
good responses." As a result, only post-test scores could be compared between
the experimental and control groups. The qualitative data revealed that parents
made important changes during the filial therapy process.