Newman, Thomas S. (2018, October). Counseling Ohio youth: What their parents hope for in mental health counseling services in a county identified as Appalachian. Doctoral dissertation (Counselor Education and Supervision), Kent State University.

Abstract: This study used Q methodology to explore the hopes of parents in an Appalachian county in Ohio in relation to the mental health counseling treatment provided to their children. The participants in this study took part in two phases. In Phase I, 11 local mental health counseling providers were interviewed to create a sample of statements for parents to rank. In Phase II, 26 parents whose children were receiving mental health counseling services in the identified county sorted the collection of statements.

Analysis of the sorts resulted in three viewpoints (factors) held by parent participants. Comments were also collected from parent participants during the sorting process. Given the ranking of the items in the sort and the comments from the follow-up questionnaire, each participant group (factor) with similar hopes was given a brief descriptive title. Hopes of Factor 1 parents might be summarized as: “I hope my child receives individual patient counseling, focused on the child’s behaviors and feelings, from a knowledgeable professional who cares and is respectful and genuine.” Hopes of Factor 2 parents might best be summarized as: “My child needs counseling, focused on their behaviors, to get the system (justice/family services) out of our lives and I don’t want to be involved in mental health counseling services.” And summarization of Factor 3 parents’ hopes might be: “I hope to receive validating counseling focused on the family and offering me skills to help me address my child’s behavior.” Participants in all three factors also described some statements, identified as hopes by the group of counseling professionals, as generally unimportant to their hopes for their children in mental health counseling services (e.g., counselor demographics).

Analysis suggests parents in this Appalachian county have varied hopes for their children in mental health counseling services. The results of the study reinforce the long-standing need for mental health counselors to engage their clients to understand the individual effect of their environment on them as opposed to making assumptions based on those environments. Hopes identified by parents also simultaneously challenge and support some traditional beliefs about Appalachian residents’ use of and hopes for the mental health counseling services provided for their children.

Thomas S Newman <> is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC-S) in Ohio with 16 years of experience within agency, college, and community mental health settings. He currently co-owns and directs a mental health counseling private practice in Northeast Ohio serving a wide variety of clientele. In addition to providing direct services, he has been a researcher and educator with a focus on the application of improving outcomes for clients seeking mental health counseling services, particularly within families.