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Practice Brief 19: Mental Health Services for Caregivers

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2024
4 pages

This publication by the Native Child Advocacy Resource Center(NCARC) on conjoint caregiver and child treatment discusses mental health services available for caregivers.


This publication of the Native Child Advocacy Resource Center (NCARC) provides an overview of conjoint caregiver and child treatment and summarizes evidence-supported treatments including caregiver and child conjoint sessions as well as components intended for the caregiver. National Children’s Alliance (NCA) Accreditation requires that Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) offer services not only to child clients but also to their nonoffending caregivers. Whether mental health assessment and treatment are provided onsite or through partner providers, victim advocates and other CAC staff may be able to provide additional supports in collaboration with clinicians. CACs should consider providing assessment, support, and treatment for other family members as well. Healing from childhood trauma often occurs within the context of supportive relationships. Conjoint treatment (treatment in which a clinician meets with two or more individuals simultaneously) involving the child and a non-offending caregiver is a common feature of many evidence-supported trauma interventions. Conjoint treatment allows clinicians to address the safety and well-being of the child as well as the risk of future abuse. Clinicians can use conjoint sessions to support the caregiver in developing parenting skills, to support the caregiver and child in enhancing their relationship, and to support the caregiver in meeting the child’s specific needs. While the child’s needs are the focus of conjoint sessions, the clinician can also promote the caregiver’s and family’s overall wellbeing. Meta-analysis of evidence-supported interventions for sexual abuse has shown that non-offending caregivers who participate in such treatments with their children report increases in understanding and knowledge of child sexual abuse, increases in emotional support, improvements in mood, and increases in sense of support for the parenting role. In addition, caregivers who participate in treatment generally report improved parenting practices and improved communication with their children.

Date Published: March 1, 2024