Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Anne L. Stewart

William Whelan

Cara Meixner

Kelly Atwood


This qualitative study examined the lived experiences of foster parents to understand how they make meaning of their child’s behavior and their training needs. A survey posted to online foster parent support communities gathered information about foster parents’ level of parental reflective functioning, perceptions of training experiences, and reflections on their parenting experience. Responses from 13 participants were collected and analyzed. Quantitative data gathered was used to characterize the sample of participants. Using thematic analysis, nine themes were rendered. Participants identified positive and negative aspects of their parenting experience, reported strong feelings of love, highlighted the impact of trauma on their child, described struggling with interpreting and responding to their child’s difficult behavior, and struggled with navigating emotional responses. Participants reported being dissatisfied with their previous training experiences, found trauma focused training the most helpful, and disclosed a desire for more training on practical techniques. Implications for clinical treatment and foster parenting training are discussed.



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