Date of Conferral





Human Services


Tracey Phillips


Psychosocial support from family is important in outpatient treatment programs for individuals with depressive disorder. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences and perceptions of parents of patients with depressive disorder regarding intensive outpatient treatment. The research question was what are the experiences and perceptions of parents of patients with depression regarding their role as caretakers in intensive outpatient treatment? The conceptual framework was a biopsychosocial framework and family systems theory. Content analysis was used to analyze data provided from interviews with parent participants (n = 8). Many participants reported high levels of involvement with various forms of support. They maintained positive relations with professionals, were involved in patient socialization, and facilitated adherence to patients' treatment plans. The results of this study indicated that family caregivers experienced ambivalent emotions toward their roles and patients. Findings also indicated experiences of exhaustion, strong emotions about the burden of having to support the patient, and concern for their own and the rest of the family's well-being. Future researchers should study these aspects further. Researchers, clinical practitioners, and policy makers must increase efforts to support those who help family members suffering from depression to intensify the search for effective ways to reduce the toll on those caregivers. Because of these findings, researchers could expand literature to illuminate the decisions and practices of psychotherapists, leading to improvements in intensive treatment programs for both patients and their caretakers. This study impacts social change by providing insights to aid policy makers in ensuring that outpatients receive the best treatment program available and that their primary caretakers are psychologically prepared and healthy.