This study investigated the nature of the psycho-social needs of the parents of a child with encopresis. Gaps were identified in the literature that indicated that there is little information available on the needs of parents who are confronted by the complex dysfunction resulting from encopresis. During the course of the empirical investigation, which involved interviews with the parents of children suffering from encopresis, it was confirmed that these gaps do exist. The aim of this study was to determine what parents’ psycho-social needs were with regard to their child if their child is suffering from encopresis. In order to reach this aim, a number of objectives were set. The first objective was to establish a knowledge base by means of a literature review and discussions with experts in the field of encopresis. Information was gathered with regard to the physiological mechanism of encopresis, the role of toilet routine in the origins and development of encopresis, the effect of encopresis on the family system and the psycho-social aspects that maintain this dysfunction. The second objective was to obtain empirical data on the psycho-social needs of the parents of a child with encopresis. The third objective was to draw conclusions and to make recommendations on the basis of the results of this study in respect of parents’ psycho-social needs. The recommendations, which are presented in written form, can serve as recommendations to be used in providing assistance in the practice. The empirical study took the form of one-on-one interviews with the assistance of a semi-structured interview schedule within a phenomenological strategy. The respondents were the parents of children in whom encopresis has been medically diagnosed. The aim of using a phenomenological strategy was to determine what meaning respondents attach to their everyday life. The phenomenological strategy was followed as part of an explorative study. The explorative study was designed to elicit information allowing greater insight into the actual practical situation. The parent couples were selected by the researcher by means of a process of purposeful sampling. Transcripts of the interviews were made after the interviews had been completed and this data was analysed and interpreted. The interview schedule that was used is included in Appendix A. Because encopresis is a highly sensitive topic, respondents were given a letter of informed consent to read and sign. An example of this letter is attached as Appendix B. The empirical data obtained by means of the semi-structured interviews emphasised the following key themes: · The parents’ primary need is information on the nature and causes of encopresis. · The parents’ second most urgent need is the skills to cope with a child with encopresis. Parents indicated that the complex and unpleasant nature of encopresis puts great demands on their parenting skills. · The third central theme that emerged was the need for skills with regard to handling the siblings of an encopretic child. The encopretic child makes very insistent demands on parents and the siblings within the family system react in ways that require particular parenting skills. · The fourth central theme is the parents’ need for support with regard to their own emotions. Parents indicated that tension and frustration arose in their relationship in respect of the demands made by an encopretic child and that they needed support and understanding. · The fifth key theme was the parents’ need for understanding and support from professional role players with regard to encopresis. The parents indicated that they required this understanding and expertise particularly from the medical role players, as well as the school system. · The sixth theme is the need for support from the social community. Parents expressed a clear need for the support of family, friends and the wider social community, since the parents and the family can become completely socially isolated. · The seventh theme was the need for a support group for the parents of children with encopresis. · The eighth theme was the parents’ need for greater awareness in the broader community about encopresis. Parents expressed a need for greater media awareness about encopresis. The research has shown clearly that among these parents there is a great need for information, coping skills and support with regard to various aspects surrounding a child with encopresis. Parents expressed a particular need for support groups to address their psycho-social needs. On the one hand, these needs as expressed by the respondents suggest guidelines for practical assistance to the parents of children with encopresis. On the other hand, they also suggest areas for further research.
Dissertation (MSD (Play Therapy))--University of Pretoria, 2006.