Parent engagement is critically important to the success of psychological treatments for children with disruptive behavior. Most studies on parental readiness for treatment have focused on mothers. Thus, many investigations do not fully capture clinical services that often involve assessment with multiple parents (e.g., mothers and fathers) simultaneously, including consideration of similarity and discrepancy in parents’ report of readiness. Better understanding the views and opinions of multiple caregivers may have implications for the uptake of clinical services.
The present study examined readiness for change amongst 107 mother-father dyads who were referred to a children’s mental health clinic because of their children’s disruptive behavior. Mothers and fathers reported on readiness for change, child mental health, and parenting behaviors, in addition to their own mental health difficulties.
Intraclass correlations revealed that there was moderate agreement for all clinical variables within caregiver dyads, though readiness for change was the most discrepant and fathers were less ready. A structural equation model demonstrated that the strongest correlate of fathers’ readiness for change was mothers’ readiness, while mothers were more ready when their children had greater overall mental health problems.
When appropriate based on family composition, it may be important to consider readiness to engage in children’s mental health services for multiple caregivers during clinical intake assessments.