Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Susan Panichelli-Mindel, PhD


One in five children in the United States is diagnosed with a mental health disorder; however, not all of them receive the appropriate services (NAMI, 2015). When services are accessible, lack of engagement in treatment can contribute to high dropout and to limited treatment success (Staudt, 2007). In literature on adults, one well studied factor that contributes to participation and engagement in treatment is an individual’s treatment beliefs and expectations. In the case of children, however, it is important to consider not only their treatment beliefs and expectations, but also the beliefs and expectations of their primary caregivers, because they play a large role in the children’s lives. This study expands on the research that exists regarding both caregiver and children’s treatment beliefs and expectations and the impact of these on caregiver participation, adherence, and change in children’s mental health symptoms. The present study used archival data collected from a community mental health agency to understand children and caregiver treatment beliefs about outpatient therapy. A total of 85 participants (one participant = a child and primary caregiver) were assessed at time of intake on their initial treatment beliefs and expectations, and on children’s initial mental health symptoms. They were then assessed again after 6 months of treatment for their treatment beliefs and expectations and children’s mental health symptoms. In addition, the children’s clinicians completed a rating scale to determine caregiver treatment participation and adherence. Due to a small sample size and high initial treatment beliefs and expectations from both caregiver and children, there were no significant results found in the study. Future research should use a larger sample size to elucidate the relationship between children and caregiver beliefs and expectations and treatment.

Included in

Psychology Commons