Optimizing resiliency in children of divorce: Protocol for Connecticut mental health educators

John Alexander Pagnani (2001)

This dissertation offers a prototype protocol for mental health educators in Connecticut who are providing divorcing families with required pre-divorce parent education. A thorough review of the demographics on divorce, children, and economic considerations are reviewed. Literature on the divorce on children often reveal contradictory claims. Early research studies: (a) were often poorly designed, (b) utilized nonstandardized test instruments, (c) were often based on poor sampling techniques, (d) seemed to be more based upon cherished theoretical beliefs than factual data, and (e) generalized from non-standardized clinical trials. Recent research designs have been more able to reveal complex influences that divorce may play on children including (a) perspectives on stress and risk factors, (b) conflict and abuse, (c) self-esteem, (d) temperament, and (e) age at time of parental divorce. Contemporary literature on resilience is promising. Factors such as (a) mediating stress, (b) the presence of buffers from conflict, (c) rectification of constitutional vulnerabilities, (d) enhanced social supports, (e) developed coping skills, and (f) appraisals of competence and self-esteem may be protective influences. The primary objective of this dissertation proposal is to develop a model based on fostering resiliency that can be an enhancement to existing required program content. An in-depth exploration of the legacy of divorce in the United States and Connecticut law both point to the need for such a manual as a new paradigm. This dissertation will focus on resilience research specific to children of divorce and the development of a protocol for utilization by mental health professionals in Connecticut.