Parents Role in Psychotherapy

Author: Murat Artiran, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist

Recent studies indicate that children of parents with depression are more likely to experience depression themselves than children with non-depressed parents.  Do you think this is because of genetic or environmental factors?  What other factors could there be?  If it is true that children with parents with depression are more likely to experience depression, what preventative actions, if any, do you feel could be taken?  See the attached Harvard Mental Health letter (or look for it in EKU libraries) for a starting point for your thinking.  Depressed parent, depressed child?  Harvard Mental Health Letter, Nov. 2011, 28(5), 3.


Psychological disorders emerge during stressful events, therefore genetic factors plays a big role when we consider vulnerability. Genetic and neurological factors are affecting behavior.”

I completely support the idea of necessity of treatment of parents in order to maintain child’ psychological well-being. In most cases, having couple of sessions with parents before starting to treat children will help psychologist throughout treatment. One of my 8 years old client had ‘serious’ OCD. I have talk to his mother. His mother was also a patient of OCD for a long period of time without received any treatment. Consequently the children has been never learned to cope with OCD.

On the other side, genetic factors are also important. A study of child and adolescent personality development (De Haan, Dekovic, and Prinzie, 2012) employed the Big Five model of personality development, and hypothesized that parental and child personality would show a pattern of interaction between such personality traits as extraversion, autonomy, agreeableness, conscientiousness and warmth, with parent personality playing a more important role than that of the child.

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