Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Smith, Laurie


Child abuse is a pressing national issue that affects thousands of children every year in the United States. The lifelong implications of child abuse been well documented in the literature, which identifies psychopathology, interpersonal violence and suicide risk, and substance abuse as a prominent triad of the negative sequelae of child abuse. Parents abused as children represent a subgroup that introduces additional domains of clinical interest and unique needs, including parenting stress and perceived parenting competence. These complex clusters of needs are clinically significant, and the beliefs licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) hold about parents abused as children can significantly affect the assessment process. This study sought to assess LCSW beliefs about assessing parents abused as children through qualitative interviews with 10 LCSWs with clinical experience that could have included this population. This study found that LCSWs emphasize the three domains of psychopathology, interpersonal violence and suicide risk, and substance abuse in their assessment processes, thus reflecting LCSW beliefs about the saliency of these issues. The exploration of strengths and resources also emerged as a significant area of assessment and case conceptualization, which demonstrates congruence with core social work values. Culture, parental stress and client-perceived competence were not, however, emphasized in the participant responses. Overall, this study points to the strong congruence between the expressed LCSW beliefs about assessing this population and the domains emphasized in the literature, as well as core social work values.