Abstract: The Effectiveness of a Mindfulness-Based Therapeutic Parenting Group (MTPG) for Parents with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): A Randomized Controlled Trial (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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The Effectiveness of a Mindfulness-Based Therapeutic Parenting Group (MTPG) for Parents with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): A Randomized Controlled Trial

Sunday, January 15, 2023
North Mountain, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Renhui Lyu, Doctoral student, The University of Hong Kong, China
Shuang Lu, PhD, MSW, Assistant Professor, The University of Hong Kong, Department of Social Work and Social Administration, Hong Kong
Background and Purpose: Parents with Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have increased possibility of using dysfunctional parenting. It is challenging for parents with ACEs to regulate their own negative experiences elicited from a stressful family life. ACEs are linked with the development of maladaptive schemas. When the schema mode is triggered in parenting, a parent could sometimes erupt into a highly emotional interaction, which is marked by quick, automatic, and often angry emotional reactions. Bringing mindful awareness to the emotional moment, and fostering a nonjudgmental and nonreactive attitude can help parents break the intergenerational transmission of ACEs. This study examines the effectiveness of an online 8-week Mindfulness-Based Therapeutic Parenting Group (MTPG) intervention for Chinese parents with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

Method: MTPG was adapted from Bögels et al.’s Mindful Parenting curriculum. Targeting characteristics of parents with ACEs, MTPG integrated self-regulation practices in moments of emotional arousal and responding skills to the inner child while developing self-nurturing ability. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) was conducted to examine the effectiveness of the MTPG as compared with a waitlist control group (WLCG). Seventy-eight parents who were currently facing parenting problems with at least one ACE report were randomized into two groups. Parenting stress, emotional symptoms, and mindful parenting were measured pre- and post-intervention.

Findings: One-way analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) demonstrated that parents in the MTPG showed a significant decrease in total parental stress index (PSI) score with a medium to large effect size (Cohen’s d = 0.742). This progress was sustained for 2 months. An ACE × group interaction effect was found: Parents with four or more ACEs may experience more strongly emotional symptoms and stress in the group compared with parents with low level of ACEs. Parents in the MTPG also demonstrated improvements in their emotional awareness (medium effect size, d = 0.544) and listening aspects (small to medium, d = 0.439) of interpersonal mindful parenting (IM-P).

Conclusion and Implications: These results show the effectiveness and feasibility of the MTPG for parents with ACEs. Long-term intervention is needed for parents with high ACEs burden, trauma related emotional turbulence due to mindfulness practice should be given enough caution. The cultivation of self-compassionate toward their own suffering and self-care should be highlighted in ACEs population before they can manage to apply mindful parenting to their children.