Year of Publication


Date of Thesis


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Occupational Therapy

Subject Categories

Occupational therapy


Millions of Americans suffer from mental illness in the United States and of those, a large percentage are parents. There is a lack of research in the literature about occupational therapy interventions related to parenting for clients in acute phases of mental illness. The purpose of this study was to understand the practice patterns of occupational therapists providing services to parents with mental health illness, as well as the barriers and facilitators associated with the ability to address parenting in mental health practice. This study was a phenomenological qualitative design utilizing two phone interviews per participant. Four participants working in inpatient mental health settings from three different facilities participated. Six themes were identified from the data analysis. Themes related to barriers included parenting is secondary, lack of familiarity, and lack of access. Themes related to supports included supports vary and relevant skills. An overall theme related to practice patterns emerged: a desire for change. The results showed there are multiple barriers that must be overcome in order to provide interventions on parenting in an inpatient mental health setting and that the resources occupational therapists have vary greatly based on the facility. The implications for occupational therapy include the need to identify parenting as a goal, more education on the topic in occupational therapy programs and continuing education courses, and creative solutions to overcome lack of access to children and families. More research is needed to further understand the clinical reasoning behind decision making with a broader range of participants and to understand occupational therapy’s role in working with the children of parents with mental illness to address their concerns.



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