Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



First Advisor

Hilary Vidair, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Camilo Ortiz, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Tali Wigod, Psy.D.


Externalizing behaviors compose about half of all mental health referrals for children (Connor, 2002). Behavioral parent training (BPT) is an efficacious treatment that prevents and treats externalizing disorders (Daley et al., 2014). Nonetheless, dropout rates are high; approximately 26% of parents prematurely end treatment (Chacko et al., 2016). Anecdotally, clinicians speculate parents often expect minimal involvement in their child’s treatment for behavioral problems, perhaps contributing to premature termination. Exploring parents’ perception of BPT, where a parent learns skills, and an alternative treatment, where a child learns skills, is therefore needed; however, no study has done so. It was hypothesized that parents would accept and prefer child-focused treatment more than BPT. Relations were also examined between parenting style, severity of child problem behavior, and acceptability and preference. Participants included 164 parents of children, ages 3 to 8, who reported struggling with their child’s misbehavior. Recruited through online parenting groups, parents read representative vignettes for child-focused treatment and BPT and completed self-report measures. Results indicated, while parents found both models of treatment acceptable, on average, parents significantly preferred child-focused treatment. Likewise, on average, more lax parents and parents with children with more severe behavioral problems found both treatments acceptable, but significantly preferred child-focused treatment. This suggests clinicians could provide more psychoeducation about the effectiveness of BPT, and frequently check-in with families, particularly those with more lax parents and children with more severe behavioral problems. Clinicians could also incorporate aspects of child-focused treatment, like child-only skills sessions, to increase BPT engagement.