• Caroline Nygaard Hundahl
  • Mette Koed Holm
  • Mathilde Lundstrøm Ludvigsen
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis explores how parents, who participate in the Cool Kids program, use the available interpretative repertoires to position themselves, and how this affect them as parents to a child with anxiety. Cool Kids is a generic manualized cognitive-behavioral therapy provided for children aged 6-12 years old who suffer from anxiety. This therapy consists of 10 sessions where the parents as well as the child are included and is organized in groups of five to seven families. As the three of us were engaged as voluntary student workers in two different small cities, our interest in this area was aroused. We interviewed six parents, who participated in this program with their child in the autumn of 2017. Based on three of these interviews, we made an explorative study at that time (Hundahl, Holm & Ludvigsen, unpub.). It is based on this study our interest in discursive psychology was awoken. The qualitative methodology lay the foundation of this thesis in which these semi-structured interviews and the Parents’ Workbook (Lyneham, Abbott, Wignall & Rapee, 2010a) were analyzed from a discursive perspective. This analysis has its origins in the critical discursive psychology as Nigel Edley and Margaret Wetherell (2001) among others have formulated. Therefore, the analysis is founded on the concepts of interpretative repertoires, subject positions, and ideological dilemmas, and especially how these appear for the parents. The discourse analysis reveals a connection between the repertoires from the Parents’ Workbook and the repertoires from the interviews. The focal point of this interaction is the shift in responsibility between the parents, psychologists and Cool Kids. These dynamics are discussed in the light of Hanne Knudsen’s three discourses, that has characterized the cooperation between school and home. In this way the parents use some of the repertoires to place the responsibility on the psychologists while they use some other repertoires to take responsibility for the treatment. Thus, the parents are assigned with the responsibility for the work of different tasks at home as well as changing their own behavior using specific repertoires and subject positions. On the one hand the parents are positioned as responsible, but on the other hand the parents shift the responsibility to the psychologists through reflexive positioning as non-experts, insufficient and powerless. The discussion about how these repertoires and subject positions affect the parents includes Albert Bandura’s (1986) and Robert Karasek’s (1979) theoretical perspectives. It appears that the parents probably have low perceived self-efficacy which is caused by a low sense of control which presumably can cause mental strain. Therefore, this is an important point of focus for further treatment programs for children that include parents. Furthermore, we discuss how alternative treatments might make other repertoires available, which could lead to a more appropriate cooperation between the different agents. This includes the metacognitive behavioral therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It is indicated that especially the last-mentioned pave the way for some new repertoires. This might change some of the current undesirable dynamics that impact placement of responsibility, which affects the parents’ effort related to the treatment. Critical discursive psychology is based on a social constructivist perspective while anxiety and the Cool Kids program are marked by a cognitive perspective. Thus, is this a tension field which we try to combine in this thesis. In that connection anxiety can be considered as an interpersonal, and therefore discursive, phenomenon. In regard to this we are aware that we in this thesis are discursively constructing a specific story of anxiety. The thesis concludes that in the Cool Kids program the parents are held accountable for their own behavior that might affect the child as well as the parents’ effort. This can have various consequences for the parents as well as the outcome of the treatment for their child with anxiety. The main problem is that this massive responsibility, that is placed on the parents, is not articulated explicit. As a result, this area should be in focus in future research as well as future treatment programs developed to children and their parents. This thesis focused on the perspectives of the parents during the involvement in the treatment of their children’s anxiety issues. Thus, it can appear as if we have neglected the children, whom are an important part of the treatment too. Though we preferred to study the perspective of the parents thoroughly instead of including the children as well. However, the perspective of the children should also be paid attention.
Publication date31 May 2018
Number of pages187
ID: 280191037