Intensive Parent Model

About This Program

Target Population: Parents of children, ages 3-18, with either mental health disorders or intellectual disabilities

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 3 – 18

Program Overview

The Intensive Parent Model helps parents of children with mental health disorders and/or intellectual disabilities reduce their stress and improve their child's behavior. The Intensive Parent Model focuses on the parent's well-being before they make changes in their own child's behavior. The Model has three core components: Parent Self-Care, where the parent's mental health improves through identifying and changing expectations of themselves and their child while improving communication and support skills; Parent Awareness, where the parent learns their child's developmental and mental health needs and how to advocate for their child; and Parent Ability, where the parent develops individualized approaches to change their child's behavior. Through a series of discussions, role-playing exercises, and reading assignments, the Model provides a positive strength-based approach to help the parent tailor the skills learned to their individual needs.

Program Goals

The goals of the Intensive Parent Model are:

  • Reduced parental stress
  • Improved communication skills
  • Increased knowledge of child's developmental and mental health needs
  • Increased support systems
  • Reduction in severity of child's common behavior problems

Logic Model

View the Logic Model for Intensive Parent Model.

Essential Components

The essential components of the Intensive Parent Model include:

  • Parents are the singular approach in the Intensive Parent Model as they are the ones who can suffer significantly more symptoms and issues of parental stress with special needs children (i.e., mental health disorders and/or intellectual disabilities) than parents of typical children. Prior to learning parenting skills, they need to comprehend the impact of their child's behavior on their own life and learn to manage their specific behavior.
  • The predominant concept of the Intensive Parent Model is expectations: As parents change the expectations of themselves as parents and of their child's abilities, their stress levels decrease and the parent-child bond strengthens.
  • Core Components
    • Parent Self-Care - how the parent views themselves and their well-being needs
    • Parent Awareness - how the parent views their child's unique needs and advocating for them
    • Parent Ability - how the parent views their child's behavior and developing strategies
  • Subcore Components
    • Stress Reduction
    • Grief and Loss
    • Assertive Communication
    • Support Systems
    • Child Development
    • Mental Health Education
    • Parent Advocacy
    • Promoting Positive Behavior
    • Clear Expectations
    • Solving Problems
  • Practitioner strategies in the Intensive Parent Model focus on:
    • Praising the parent's existing skills and developing a range of enhanced approaches to improve their functioning and that of their child
    • Utilizing structured decision-making approaches to parenting and self-behavior problems to nurture the parent's independence as their own behavior specialist
    • Developing the parent's communication skills to increase their assertiveness in their environment, with their child's school and other systems, and the community
    • Understanding their loss of the child's status as "typical" and to perceive their child's challenges from a reality-based lens
    • Decreasing the isolative behavior of parents and encouraging their development of formal and informal networks of community to support them with their child
  • Intensive Parent Model services are designed to be sensitive to the culturally diverse needs of the parents served.
  • The Intensive Parent Model sessions are:
    • Provided by practitioners who have been trained in the model and receive supervision, either from their agency or from the PRAXES central office.
    • Scheduled to meet for approximately one hour a week for twelve weeks.
    • Designed for parents of children, ages 3-18, with either mental health disorders and/or intellectual disabilities
  • The program is delivered through a combination of teaching styles, including:
    • Discussion of psychoeducational subjects pertaining to the core components
    • Questionnaires
    • Writing and discussion exercises
    • Role playing exercises between the practitioner and the parent
    • Practice assignments to be conducted in between sessions
  • The practitioner also contacts the parent by phone between sessions to engage them further about the topic of the past week, ask how the parent has been practicing the skills learned from that session, and see if there are any questions or concerns raised by the parent about the subject material.
  • Parents are encouraged to view themselves based upon their strengths and their existing talents in managing their child.
  • Exercises are individualized to accommodate each parent's needs.
  • Delivery modalities:
    • Individual
    • Group delivery with 8-12 parents
    • May be offered in a variety of settings (e.g., home, clinic, school, medical groups, churches, etc.)

Program Delivery

Parent/Caregiver Services

Intensive Parent Model directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Feeling overwhelmed about raising their child; lack of control over their child’s behavior, themselves, and/or their environment; denying their child’s mental health needs; difficulties communicating with child, adults, or others in their life; parent’s lack of resources or isolative behavior; lack of knowledge about their child’s developmental and/or mental health needs; parent’s lack of successful parenting skills
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: Other adults who live at home (e.g., grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) are encouraged to participate.

Recommended Intensity:

An one-hour weekly session plus a phone call between sessions to check in on the parent

Recommended Duration:

12 weeks or 3-4 months

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Adoptive Home
  • Birth Family Home
  • Foster / Kinship Care
  • Outpatient Clinic
  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
  • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)


Intensive Parent Model includes a homework component:

Parent is asked to practice one skill learned from the previous session for the upcoming week.


Intensive Parent Model has materials available in a language other than English:


For information on which materials are available in this language, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

Practitioner and room large enough for two or three adults to sit comfortably. Practitioner and Parent Manual are required.

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Intensive Parent Model practitioners can be paraprofessionals, such as Parent Advocates, Bachelor’s level Care Managers or Behavioral Specialists, or Master’s level Therapists. 2 years’ experience working with children and parents is preferred.

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Program Manual(s)

Thorne, D. (2017). Intensive Parent Model: Practitioner manual. Author.

Please contact the author (see contact information at bottom of page) for more information.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

Training is provided onsite at agencies, regionally, and online.

Number of days/hours:

1-day initial practitioner training, ½-day supervisor training, and ½-day booster training (provided six months after initial practitioner training). Contact also provides monthly supervisions for supervisors via conference call.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for Intensive Parent Model.

Additional References

No reference materials are currently available for Intensive Parent Model.

Contact Information

Dan Thorne, MS, LMFT
Agency/Affiliation: PRAXES
Phone: (657) 200-5031

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: February 2019

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: June 2021

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: April 2019