Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Development and Family Studies

Committee Chair(s)

David Robinson


David Robinson


Ryan Seedall


Spencer Bradshaw


E. Megan Lachmar


Timothy Curran


The transition to parenthood is change that alters the very structure of the family system. Families who engage in this transition are often in need of assistance as they navigate and attempt to manage the changes and challenges that arise. The biopsychosocial-spiritual model is a modality that helps providers more holistically examine the biological, psychological, social and spiritual realms of life’s experiences. This model provides a valuable way to look at the transition to parenthood and understand some of the interactions taking place that may contribute to the development of challenges such as mental health concerns. The present dissertation was designed to examine the relationship between the biopsychosocial-spiritual aspects and the transition to parenthood in order to identify ways to help families in need during this transition. A model of therapy, solution-focused brief therapy, is identified and explored as a helpful technique to be used by providers tasked with working with families during the transition to parenthood. A vignette is then used to explore how solution-focused brief therapy can be used by providers working in a collaborative care setting with a couple navigating the transition to parenthood.

Additionally, a sample of 161 couples aged 21 to 44 (M = 31.52, SD = 4.48) who have given birth or are currently pregnant during the perinatal period completed a questionnaire exploring the biopsychosocial-spiritual aspects during the transition to parenthood. An Actor-Partner Interdependence Mediation Model was used to explore the relationship between spiritual fortitude and depression and anxiety during the perinatal period as mediated by attitudes towards parenthood. Present findings highlighted the influence that spiritual fortitude has on the development of perinatal depression and anxiety as well as the relationship between attitudes towards parenthood and depression and anxiety during the perinatal period. Although not a mediating effect, this study identified the importance of examining how spiritual fortitude could serve as a buffer against mental health concerns during the perinatal period.