The quiet crisis: An interpretive phenomenological study on parental experiences of youth inpatient treatment



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For the present qualitative study, the researcher utilized interpretive phenomenology (IP) to facilitate an immersive exploration of the lived experiences of parents having an adolescent child who has received inpatient hospitalization for a mental health, behavioral, or substance use crisis. A total of nine parents participated in semi-structured interviews, sharing their experiences regarding inpatient treatment, the impact of a parent’s own unique mental health history, and the lived experience of parents having a child requiring inpatient psychiatric hospitalization. The purpose of this research study was to gain increased understanding of the emotional, social, and economic difficulties parents faced as they attempted to navigate both a family crisis and a complex mental health care system. By utilizing both attachment theory and sociocultural theory, an integrative theoretical framework was crafted to extrapolate how early adversity, intergenerational patterns, and cultural influences can be catalysts to stigmatized beliefs surrounding mental health and influence treatment efficacy. The study resulted in five major themes: Intergenerational Transmission; A Cascade of Events; My Own Trauma Timeline; Reorganizing Family Life Around the Crisis; and Restorative Attachment Bonding. Relating to these major themes, 14 subthemes were also found. The clinical implications encourage treatment professionals to examine the intersections of multiple adversity points that impact a patient’s symptoms, recognize the emotional secrecy that can exist in families, and help parents navigate the trauma they experience in response to their child’s hospitalization.



Parental experiences of their children's inpatient treatment experiences