Parents' and medical student therapists' perceptions of child mental health services: A teaching program in prevention and early intervention

Gail E. Wyatt, University of California, Los Angeles
Barbara A. Bass, University of California, Los Angeles
Gloria J. Powell, University of California, Los Angeles
Perry Lim, California State University, Los Angeles


The ratings of 70 medical student therapists in their psychiatric clerkships were matched with the consumers of their services-70 parents obtaining a psychiatric evaluation for their children in an outpatient clinic. The pairs were asked to rate factors which influenced the mental health services provided, including the economic and socio-cultural backgrounds of the child and therapist. Parents were found to rate these factors as less influential than the medical studient therapists, who tended to be more conservative about their own effectiveness as therapists. The students also perceived the patients' personalities and cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds as more influential to the patient-therapist relationship than did the parents. Suggestions are made for more educational information regarding metnal health services for the public and for medical students to increase their knowledge and the effectiveness of the patient-therapist relationship in the intervention process and insight into what the process of prevention should be. © 1983 Human Sciences Press.