Publication Date

2012-07-26

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2012-07-26

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2011-05-11

First Committee Member

Jill Ehrenreich-May

Second Committee Member

Kiara Timpano

Third Committee Member

Neena Malik

Abstract

Anxiety and depressive disorders result from a complex interaction of genetic and environmental influences over time. Parental behavior in the context of a child’s internalizing distress, although only one of many interacting factors, may be important to understanding the etiology of anxiety and depressive disorders. Specifically, how a parent responds to their child’s emotions and youth attempts at emotion regulation may influence subsequent child emotion coping through both operant conditioning and observational learning. However, the impact of a parent’s own emotion regulation strategies on youth anxiety and depression has not been well-examined nor has the influence of parent’s emotion regulation strategies on youth treatment outcomes. The present investigation examined associations between parent emotion regulation strategies and supportive, minimizing, punitive, and distress-oriented responses when faced with youth negative affect in a sample of 76 adolescents (ages 12-18) referred to a University-based research clinic for anxiety and/or depressive disorders. Additionally, parental reactions to youth negative affect were examined in relation to adolescent pre-treatment symptom severity and treatment outcome in a randomized, controlled trial of a transdiagnostic cognitive behavioral protocol for anxiety and depression. Results indicate a positive relationship between parental use of reappraisal as an emotion regulation strategy and supportive responses to youth negative affect, as well as a negative relationship between parental use of reappraisal and distress reactions. Additionally, parental distress reactions and minimization responses to youth negative affect were associated with adolescent internalizing symptom severity. Supportive parenting responses were also associated with better adolescent treatment outcomes in an emotion-focused treatment protocol for anxiety and depression. These results provide a novel framework from which to view parent behaviors in the context of youth internalizing symptoms. Additionally, this investigation suggests that parent directed treatment components addressing parental emotion regulation strategies and encouraging appropriately supportive parental responses to youth negative affect may be warranted.

Keywords

Adolescent; anxiety; depression; parent; supportive; treatment

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