This book guides professionals through the process of evaluating whether a mother with a major mental illness is at risk for maltreating her child.Children of parents with a major mental illness are at a high risk for both emotional disorders and developmental delays. However, attachment theory holds that the bonds of love between parent and child are among the most powerful indicators of future emotional health. Assessing when a parent poses a significant risk to her children is fraught with problems: there are few instruments that look at psychological functioning as it relates to parenting skills, the observation of a parent in multiple contexts is extremely difficult, there are differences in childrearing practices across cultures, and many instruments tend to focus on parenting deficits rather than strengths, just to name a few.This book provides a comprehensive overview about how to evaluate whether a mother with a mental illness is able to safely care for her children. The book synthesizes the research about psychiatric disorders and parenting and outlines eight principles for sound assessment methodology. It provides a step-by-step description of a parenting evaluation, including assessment of the parent's capabilities, the examination of the child's needs, and consideration of the social factors in the relationship. The book also includes numerous clinical vignettes drawn from the author's experiences.
Teresa Ostler, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Ostler is a licensed clinical psychologist and received her bachelor of arts degree and doctoral degree in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1973 and 1984, respectively. She joined the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an associate professor in 2003. Prior to this, she was a faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the lead psychologist on the Parenting Assessment Team, a multidisciplinary team that assessed the parenting capabilities of individuals with mental illness who had lost custody of their children. Dr. Ostler's research focuses on parent child attachment relationships, individuals with major mental illness as parents, children of parents with major mental illness and substance use problems, and children in foster care. "