Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation




College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Mark Weist


The present study used an exploratory sequential mixed method design to evaluate characteristics and needs of parents of children with emotional and behavioral disabilities (EBDs) and what services may feasibly and acceptably promote wellness and mindful parenting and alleviate parenting stress in this population. Phase One of the study qualitatively explored the needs of parents of children with EBDs and identified factors of feasibility and acceptability of services to address these needs. Parents reported several themes surrounding their experience of parenting a child with an EBD and the types of services that would meet those needs: including 1) the hectic but valued experience of parenting a child with an EBD, 2) sources of parenting stress, 3) contributors and barriers to parent wellness, 4) familiarity with and views of mindfulness, and 5) issues of feasibility and acceptability in developing programming that may meet their parenting needs.

This then informed Phase Two, a concurrent quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary impact of an eight-session pilot parent support intervention. The intervention utilized mindfulness strategies, provided support informed by focus group data from Phase One, and aimed to increase parent wellness and mindful parenting and to decrease parenting stress. Among the seven parents who provided pre- and post-intervention data, parents did not report clinically significant change in parenting stress, parent wellness, or mindful parenting. In addition, levels of mindful parenting did not change over the course of the intervention. Regarding feasibility and acceptability, attendance declined over the course of the intervention, but parents gave sessions ratings of 31.96 and above on a scale of 0 to 40. Participants reported that they most highly valued sessions using mindfulness components such as the three-minute breathing space and loving-kindness practice (wishing themselves, loved ones, and all human beings well with the goal of forming the intention to be kind, compassionate, and loving) and support components including the resource book as well as avenues for local advocacy and support. Overall, parents perceived notable value of the intervention in their experience of parenting and further research may explore how to increase feasibility for acceptable interventions such as parent support groups.