Psychologist's Role for the Parent
Parent Psychology Support:
- During the initial visit, the psychologist assesses and monitors the parents' emotional health within the first 6 months of their child's life.
- Specifically, the psychologist works with parents to help successfully cope and adjust to the diagnosis of cleft.
- The birth of a child with a cleft may be difficult time for parents and family.
- Parents and caretakers are an important part of treatment for the child because they have a significant instructive role over the development and growth of the child.
- Parents may experience many different emotions (for example, shock, sadness, fear, grief, guilt, and anger) that disrupt family life as they find out that their child has a cleft.
- Parents may be going through stressors such as, coping to their infant's cleft diagnosis, manage their child's multiple medical needs, and adjust to having a new family member.
- A parent's adjustment to their child's condition can be an area of concern, since it likely also impacts the ability for the child to later adjust to his/her own condition. If parents have difficulties coping with their child's diagnosis, this in turn impacts their own parenting style and understanding of the condition.
- Part of the job of our psychologist is to determine if the parent has support, and, if not, to locate community support resources to help the family. It is also essential to offer online or written resources and educate the caregivers about the long-term implications. We can also connect them with other families in a similar situation.
- In addition, the psychologist tries to encourage parents to discuss the experience of finding out about their child's diagnosis and see how they are coping.
- The psychologist is receptive to caregivers' concerns about accepting their child's craniofacial story, and helps caregivers work through those hesitations. This means encouraging caregivers to take photos of their child, go out into public before surgery, and share their child's story with others.
- A parent's comfort with answering questions and discussing their child's craniofacial condition can set the tone for how others respond and also help to spread awareness. This also helps model how the child may want to eventually tell the story and answer questions about his or her diagnosis.
- In addition, the psychologist emphasizes the importance of the child sharing his/her medical story as a way to help stop teasing and improve relationships with peers.