Parental Experiential Avoidance as a Potential Mechanism of Change in a Parenting Intervention for Parents of Children With Pediatric Acquired Brain Injury

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Objective To consider the relationship of parental experiential avoidance (EA) to psychological symptoms and problematic parenting strategies after pediatric acquired brain injury (ABI). Methods Using available data from a randomized controlled trial of a group-based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) workshop plus a behavioral family intervention (BFI) for parents of children with ABI (n = 59), correlational and mediational analyses were conducted to consider the role of parental EA as a process of change for parent outcomes. Results Parent EA positively correlated with ineffective parenting behaviors and levels of psychological distress, both cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Reductions in EA mediated the treatment effect on reducing ineffective parenting behaviors and parent distress, but issues of temporality were present. Conclusions EA is related to parent outcomes following pediatric ABI. A larger and methodologically rigorous study is called for to further elucidate this finding and specifically determine the benefits of targeting EA with interventions such as ACT, in conjunction with evidence-based BFIs.

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