Michelle Befi MA, LMFT, AAMFT Clinical Fellow SVP, Sustainable Program Design, Catalight Research Institute
Dr. Vincent Bemmel, Director of Technology and Innovation, Catalight Research Institute
Dr. Doreen Samelson, EdD, MSCP, Chief Clinical Officer, Catalight Research Institute
Dr. Lindsey Sneed, PhD, BCBA-D, Vice President, Clinical Excellence, Catalight Research Institute
Jennifer Hoobing Senior Business Consultant – Catalight
The purpose of this exploratory study was to understand how parents experience their child’s autism spectrum disorder diagnosis and highlight opportunities for marriage and family therapists (MFTs) to apply their specific training and expertise to support these families. A thematic analysis was performed on data collected during the parents’ initial assessment to better understand the components of their experience. Four major themes emerged from the analysis: understanding, acceptance, coping, and emotion. Many subthemes were also identified across these major themes and while the majority of parents revealed positive experiences, a portion of parents expressed challenges with the diagnosis. Marriage and family therapists are equipped with specific training and expertise which can help identify difficulties in the diagnostic experience, help families improve their well-being through building resilience, and create a healthy environment for the treatment journey ahead in the context of individual, couples, or family therapy. We present recommendations for MFTs working with families with autistic children.
Befi, M., Bemmel, V., Samelson, D., Sneed, L., & Hoobing, J. (2023). Parents’ Experience of the Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Opportunities for Marriage and Family Therapists. The Family Journal, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/10664807231157025