School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD)


Stacey Lilley


child parent relationship therapy, autism spectrum disorder, parenting stress, parenting self-efficacy, child behavior problems, autism, parent training




Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) frequently exhibit behavioral problems such as tantrums or aggression, and parents of children with ASD experience disempowerment and anxiety relating to their children. Child–parent relationship therapy (CPRT) is a parent-mediated, attachment-based, and parent-involved parent training program with demonstrated efficacy as a treatment for children with externalizing problems (e.g., defiance and aggression). Adaptations to CPRT have demonstrated effectiveness in decreasing children’s problem behaviors and decreasing parenting stress in the parent–child dyad with toddlers, preadolescents, and adoptive families. However, no disability responsive adaptation (DRA) of CPRT has been implemented involving parents of young children with ASD and behavior problems. This study addresses parents’ perception of change in behavior problems with their child with ASD, parental self-efficacy, and parenting stress within the parent–child relationship (dependent variables) in response to a DRA to CPRT. The research sample consisted of seven parents of children three to five years of age with ASD symptoms and behavioral problems, who were non-randomly assigned to an experimental or control group. Using a non-parametric t test (the Mann Whitney U), findings suggested that the study sample neither provided sufficient evidence to conclude that the DRA to CPRT impacts parenting stress and self-efficacy. However, parents in the treatment group perceived a significantly higher mean change in reduced problem behaviors relative to the control group. The results have clinical implications for counselor educators/supervisors and professional counselors when working with families/parents of children with ASD.

Included in

Counseling Commons