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Title: Psychological assessment of parental competence in mothers with a learning disability
Author: James, Helen
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 2000
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Increasingly, parents with learning disabilities are being referred to clinical psychologists for assessments relating to their ability to provide safe and adequate parenting for their children. This study examines how decisions about parental competence are currently being made, and identifies the psychological factors which are relevant in determining both parenting ability, and the mother's potential to benefit from teaching and support. It is argued that clinical psychologists, while working within a multi-disciplinary context, need to be able to define what are the specifically psychological components of the assessment task. During the first stage of this study, a group of fifteen mothers with learning disability was identified, and thirty-four professionals associated with them interviewed, using a structured interview schedule designed for the purpose. The results indicated widespread reservations about how well the current assessment process operates when it is applied to mothers with learning disabilities. In particular, a need to assess more closely the psychological factors relating to parental competence was indicated. Intellectual, psychological, environmental and child-related factors were all seen as important determinants of parenting ability, and this is supported by previously reported research findings in this area. The second stage of the study was the development of an assessment instrument for use by clinical psychologists, contributing to an assessment of parental competence in mothers with a learning disability. Drawing on the research literature and the findings of the present study, a framework was developed so that information can be systematically collected in the three key areas which the clinical psychologist needs to address : - the mother's ability and her current level of functioning, her potential to improve her functioning if necessary, and the nature of the support required to enable her to do so. Once developed this assessment was completed with a further group of fifteen mothers with a learning disability. The third stage of the study assessed the usefulness of the new assessment framework, through interviews with an additional group of thirty-one professionals who were involved with the women who had been assessed. The results indicated positive changes following the implementation of the new assessment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available