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Assessing Parenting Concerns

When health care providers make time to learn about a patient’s children, the therapeutic alliance is often strengthened. Many clinicians who work with adult patients have had little child development education subsequent to their initial professional training, which may be one cause of reluctance to invite conversations about parental concerns.

Sometimes clinicians worry that discussing a patient’s children will uncover too much distress—and like opening “Pandora’s box,” once initiated such a conversation will be hard to close. The PACT team clinicians have found that when health care providers learn some basics about children’s development, and have knowledge of available resources in their geographical area for families and children, they are often able to provide ideas for supporting children that families are eager to hear and need not occupy too much clinical time. By sharing the PACT team’s clinical approach, we hope that clinicians in other settings can adapt this approach to suit their clinical practices.