A Difficult Balance---Treating All Family Members and Relationships When One Child Is Seriously Ill

CE Credit: 1

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Length: 50 minutes

Session offered by Division 43.

The Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House (RMH) is a home-away-from-home for families of children hospitalized for cancer and other serious illnesses. The faculty in the Family and Couple Clinical Psychology Emphasis at an APA approved program has collaborated with the Ronald McDonald House to support the health and well being of children with serious illnesses and their families during a very difficult time in their lives. This symposium will discuss the training that is offered to family psychologists as well as the type of interventions and programs that are utilized by the RMH families. By strengthening relationships, the family is more able to foster resources and manage more successfully, cushion the strain of adversity, build resilience in the sick child and siblings, maintain marriages, love relationships, and intergenerational bonds. Having a child with a serious illness challenges a marriage and love relationship. For relationships that are already in trouble, the problems may increase. The staff provides couple therapy and groups to help partners tolerate differing coping styles. Furthermore parents are often troubled that they have little energy for their healthy children at a time when those children need thought and comfort. The staff educates the parent about sibling issues through family therapy, workshops and provides groups for the siblings. In addition, the staff pays attention to the fact that the sick child’s grandparents have a hard time dealing with what seems to be an unnatural progression. Serious illness affects all the people in the child’s life. This symposium will explore how each family member is affected, how their relationships with others are impacted and what can be done to help family member cope and deal more effectively with the stresses of their child’s illness.

Learning Objective 1
Describe how each family member is affected by a child's illness.

Learning Objective 2
Describe two intervention to help family members deal effectively with the stresses of their child’s illness.

Presenters: Susan Regas, PhD; John Bakaly, PhD; Ronda Doonan, PsyD; John Caffaro, PhD

Supplementary Materials

  • A Difficult Balance---Treating All Family Members and Relationsh