PTSD and parenting – research

Guest blog post by Hope Christie

Everything I do is to either avoid trauma in the first place or resolve it. So when Hope contacted me to ask if I would be willing to help her spread the word about her research, I was delighted. Please feel free to share far and wide. 

Everyone knows that parenting is a seriously tough job. It comes with no instruction manual or training, no wages, no holidays or breaks, no retirement plan and the hours are, quite frankly, ridiculous! This job can be made even tougher when parents have a mental illness such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD may develop following a traumatic or frightening experience; and unlike many other disorders, PTSD can arise as a result of a trauma that has affected someone else – such as a parent witnessing their child be harmed. PTSD can cause a number of negative behaviours to develop, such as social withdrawal, feeling constantly unsafe in your surroundings and negative thoughts about yourself and/or the world around you. Sufferers often feel fundamentally and permanently changed by their experience, which can be isolating. Yet the impacts that trauma exposure may have on parenting behaviours and the parent-child relationship is largely unclear.

One way in which we can begin to gain a better understanding of the impact of trauma and PTSD is by consulting parents who have experienced many different types of trauma. Research can be used to help parents themselves better understand how their behaviours may change as a consequence of trauma exposure, and can be used to support the development of treatments that are sensitive to the needs of parents as individuals. By learning about parents’ experiences, we can start to gain more knowledge around the characteristics and constraints of contexts which may pose different levels of risk of trauma and different parenting challenges.

My name is Hope, I am a PhD student at the University of Bath, and I am looking for parents to take part in my online study. The study requires you to be a parent, and to have experienced a traumatic event (more than four weeks ago), in which you felt your own life was in danger, or the life of someone else was in danger. The online survey can be completed on your phone, tablet or computer, and should take you around 20-30 minutes to complete. The survey will ask for your name, but this is to ensure you are not a robot. If you complete the survey, your name will immediately be replaced by an ID number, ensuring your anonymity. If you are uncomfortable writing your full name, first name only or initials are fine.

The ultimate goal is to help provide more tailored support to parents and their families following trauma, and try to help make parents’ seriously tough job a little less difficult. Thank you in advance for your help!

Survey link:

PS: If you suffer or have suffered from PTSD, whether linked to birth trauma or not, and if you still haven’t found useful help, do get in touch. The techniques I use see amazing results in as little as one session. Saveria

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