Date of Submission

2022

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

Department Chair

Stephanie Felgoise, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Susan Mindel, PhD

Second Advisor

Stephanie Felgoise, PhD, ABPP

Third Advisor

William La Valle, PsyD

Abstract

Sibling relationships are one of the most critical elements of interpersonal functioning for children. The sibling relationship has been found to be an important foundation for the development of relationships in general, as siblings spend more time together than with anyone else. Mental health of a sibling has been found to impact the quality of the relationship; however, although anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders in children, there is a dearth of literature on its impact on the sibling relationship. The purpose of this study was to determine the perceptions siblings have about their experiences of living either with an anxiety disorder or with a sibling who is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. A qualitative research design was used to explore if and how anxiety impacts the sibling relationship and what differences exist between siblings’ perceptions of one another when one sibling has anxiety and the other does not. The participants in this study were youth female siblings between the ages of 10 to 17 years old. Each sibling participated in a semistructured interview that focused on the sibling relationship and possible impact of anxiety, as well as completed three questionnaires that analyzed anxiety and sibling relationships in more depth. Findings suggested that siblings do not view anxiety as having a significant impact on the overall quality of the sibling relationship. Rather, results revealed that nonanxious siblings may act in a compensatory way, as they make changes to their behaviors to help their anxious sibling avoid or alleviate distress. These changed behaviors seem to be altruistic in nature, as nonanxious siblings appeared to be sensitive to the distress caused by their sibling’s anxiety and therefore chose to help their sibling cope with negative impacts. A better understanding of sibling perceptions is important for further exploring the development of children’s social and emotional functioning.

Included in

Psychology Commons

COinS