Great Success for the first Parenting Program in Italy dedicated to parents with problems of drug addiction

The results of the first ever Parenting Program held at San Patrignano. 42 mothers and fathers rediscovered themselves as parents who were able to look after and raise their children.

San Patrignano has always helped mothers and fathers with addiction problems to rebuild the relationship with their children. The community will now engage in a scientifically proven method that focuses specifically on safeguarding the children of addicts in recovery.

The study, “Fighting Abuse: A Drug-Free Happy Family”, was carried out at San Patrignano. It was sponsored by the Italian Childhood and Adolescent Authority and supported by the UBS Optimus Foundation. It was the first trial in Italy specifically targeted at parents with problems of addiction. This form of intervention has already been used with success in Anglo-Saxon countries. It promotes good parenting practices and aims to prevent mistreatment, abuse and negligent behaviour that scientific study has proven to be seen in the behaviour of using addicts with children. Scientific professor Roberto Maniglio guided the project.

The Aim

The Parenting Program consisted of group therapy, which addressed psychological, educational and rehabilitative issues. The aim was to stimulate profound mental and behavioral changes in the parents, by modifying belief systems and adjusting dysfunctional and neglectful attitudes, thus tackling the major risks often seen in physically and psychologically abusive parent-child relationships.

The Method

A group of 63 parents, including 17 mothers, was considered. Following the guidelines of a randomized controlled trial, the most thorough way of evaluating the effectiveness of a treatment, the participants were divided in to two groups: the study group who received the therapy and the control group who did not. The study group who received the Parenting Program involved 42 parents, subdivided into three subgroups. Each of these was followed by a couple of tutors, a psychologist-psychotherapist and a community operator-educator, who were adequately trained in the previous months through an organized training course held in San Patrignano, for a total of 10 group sessions from October to December.

Both groups were subjected to various tests (Parent-Child Relationship Inventory, Parent Opinion Questionnaire, Parental Stress Scale, Parenting Sense of Competence Scale, Parenting Scale, Parent Anger Scale, Parenting Self-Agency Measure, SCL-90-R, Set of socio-demographic and historical-clinical questions derived from scientific literature), measuring their behaviors immediately before, immediately afterwards, with a follow-up after 6 months.

The Conclusions

The statistical analysis made it possible to differentiate between the study group and the control group, both immediately after the treatment and after a period of 6 months after the initial treatment (always taking into account the initial socio-demographic, clinical and familial differences between the two groups present before the therapy, so that they did not affect the results). More specifically, a statistically significant difference between the two groups was observed: while the control group showed basically unchanged levels of measured parental characteristics, the study group, on the other hand, with regard to those parenting features, showed statistically significant higher levels of positive characteristics and lower levels of negative parenting characteristics.

Unlike the control group that did not show any substantial changes over time, the study group showed differences before and after the parenting program, and up to 6 months later: higher quality in interaction and communication between parents and their children, with more emotional and physical involvement in the relationship and care of the child; greater levels of satisfaction and confidence in their ability to exercise their parenting role; lower levels of stress, anxiety, frustration, and anger in interactions with their children; more mature attitudes in the physical and emotional caring of children; greater ability to implement appropriate educational strategies, with less propensity to laxity and emotionally and physically aggressive conduct.

“The value of the results of this project are twofold – emphasizes Professor Roberto Maniglio – First, at a clinical level, the Parenting Program, applied in San Patrignano, is a study which looks at the treatment of psychological aspects and pathological behaviors of the parent as well as the psycho-physical protection of the children exposed to the risk of being subjected to ill-treatment and violence. Secondly, the Parenting Program, conceived for the Italian context, is a potentially important legal action in the prevention of child abuse situations, offering the possibility of recovering parental ability and contributing to potential reintegration into parental responsibility “.

In light of these results, the Parenting Program has immediately become a structured intervention in the recovery program at San Patrignano. “From now on, all parents who choose to engage in our recovery program will be subjected to this intervention, first of all to safeguard their children, secondly so that they will not be have to face dependency problems in the future – says Antonio Boschini, Director of the Therapeutic Programs of the Community – As the study was largely successful, we hope this tool can be an important way to reduce the number of second-generation drug addicts, a problem that we often find in many young people asking for help: in 2016 24% of newcomers (126 out of 517) had one or both parents who suffered from addiction. The first group who will be subject to the Parenting Program will be those who have been excluded and who have been part of the control group. ”

The study was also applauded by Dr. Antonio Di Gioia, president of the Order of Psychologists in Puglia, and member of the National Council of Psychologists: “The Order of Psychologists is mindful of all the initiatives aimed at improving the psycho-physical wellbeing of children and families, in particular for interventions supported by a sound scientific evidence. It is therefore necessary to promote the dissemination of tools such as the Parenting Program, applied for the first time in Italy at San Patrignano with such praiseworthy results as well as the use of new diagnostic tools such as the 7 tests on parenting introduced in the Italian context.