Conservative Christian Parents’ Perceptions of Child- Parent Relationship Therapy

“The purpose of our study was to understand, document, and report conservative Christian parents’ perceptions of the effectiveness of an intensive 5-week filial therapy program, Child Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT).”

As our society continues to grow, it is to be realized how much of a role religion plays in our everyday life. “Mental health clinicians are learning ways to integrate clients’ religious and spiritual beliefs into the counseling process as counselors are learning that this integration is helpful in creating change in the therapeutic process (Cornish & Wade, 2010; Pargament, 2007; Richards & Bergin, 2005; Rollins, 2009).”

Richards and Bergin found in their research that clients who are religious and conservative find that they hesitate to seek help from mental health professionals. They usually prefer guidance from clergy or lay professionals and typically choose counseling from the same faith or background. “Counselors find it productive to take a not knowing stance in understanding the client’s beliefs and use the client’s own faith language in the counseling relationship to help the client recognize how his or her religious beliefs can be a support during the counseling process (Watts, 2007; Watts, Polonyi, & Bornsheuer, 2010).”

“Bornsheuer, Garza, and Nichter (2012) discovered commonalities within the areas of (a) modeling caring relationships with children, (b) disciplining with love to teach healthy boundaries, (c) teaching children to choose responsible behaviors, and (d) encouraging positive relationships and acceptance. Because of this, we suggest that CPRT may be effective with conservative Christian parents and a fit with the religious parenting beliefs.” “Parents in our study overwhelmingly found that the CPRT group sessions were beneficial in bringing about change in themselves, their children, and in the family system. Several techniques and skills were noted as beneficial, such as: (a) encour- agement, (b) using statements to reflect feelings, (c) limit-setting and choices, and (d) being a thermostat rather than a thermometer (e.g., parents remaining calm when the child is becoming more intense or escalating in behavior). Further, parents reported that holding the groups at churches and incorporating Scripture into the sessions would be important and of value to parents who identify them- selves as conservative Christians. Parents suggested several different ideas about structural changes to the CPRT model that could be helpful for future groups. Even though parents suggested these changes, they were pleased with the information provided, how the groups were set up, and how the sessions were conducted.”


Bornsheuer, J. N., Garza, Y., & Nichter, M. (2012). Biblically based parenting and

child-parent relationship training: Common ground for helping religious clients. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 15, 53–64. doi:10.1080/13674676.2011.552487

Bornsheuer-Boswell, Jennifer N., et al. “Conservative Christian Parents’ Perceptions of Child−Parent Relationship Therapy.” International Journal of Play Therapy, vol. 22, no. 3, 2013, pp. 143–158.,

Cornish, M. A., & Wade, N. G. (2010). Spirituality and religion in group counseling: A literature review with practice guidelines. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 41, 398 – 404. doi:10.1037/a0020179

Richards, P. S., & Bergin, A. E. (2005). A spiritual strategy for counseling and psychotherapy (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/11214-000