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Treating Family Trauma: CEHD’s Center for Resilient Families

At the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), one of our core missions is using knowledge and research to create practical tools and interventions that help members of our community who are experiencing crisis or trauma. Thanks to a $3,000,000 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, we are beginning a new initiative that will be an important step forward in furthering that mission: the Center for Resilient Families within CEHD’s Institute for Translational Research in Children’s Mental Health.

Developing New Interventions and Training for Family Trauma

Thanks to this new funding, the Center for Resilient Families will work on a number of fronts to help families struggling with trauma. At the CRF here at the University of Minnesota CEHD, we will continue research and development of new interventions, as well as implementation of evidence-based parenting programs for centers nationwide serving families affected by trauma.

Each year for the next five years, we will focus on training clinicians in one evidence-based practice. In year one, we will be teaching ADAPT, which we originally developed for military families (read my previous blog for more). In year two, we will be training providers serving families with youth in the juvenile justice system on the Family Check-Up, an evidence-based program developed by Tom Dishion. In year three, we will offer national training on PMTO/ Parent Management Training, developed by Marion Forgatch at Oregon Social Learning Center and CAPAS for Latino families (developed by Melanie Domenech Rodriguez and Ruben Parra Cardona) as well as PMTO adapted for Somali immigrant families. In year four, we’ll be offering training in the Family Bereavement Program developed by Irwin Sandler. Finally, in year five, we’ll be developing trainers and coaches to help the people who learn these interventions to sustain these programs going forward.

Through training, research, and community outreach, the Center for Resilient Families will be a powerful force helping families in crisis or those recovering from trauma. By providing support and training in trauma interventions for the communities in most need of them, we hope to make a sustained and lasting impact on the wellbeing of families across the country.

The Center for Resilient Families is a partnership between CEHD’s Ambit Network (which works with traumatized children and families in Minnesota), Arizona State University’s REACH Institute, Implementation Sciences International and Michigan State University’s Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence. The Center for Resilient Families will be a powerful force in helping provide research-based interventions and training that have been proven to help traumatized families.

Increasing Access to Evidence-Based Trauma-Informed Parenting Programs

Through research conducted at CEHD and other institutions, we’ve learned a lot about what works in helping highly stressed parents to be their children’s best teachers. However, a key barrier to getting what works to the practitioners who deliver programs is that training in evidence-based interventions and practices is costly and often inaccessible. Thanks to the funding we’ve received from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, we’ll be able to provide ongoing training and coaching to clinicians for free – all the agencies need to cover is travel costs. Given that it can take a year-and-a-half to earn certification in some treatments, we hope to greatly increase the number of trained family trauma providers in the coming years.

We’re specifically targeting professionals who work with communities that are either isolated, underserved or experience a high incidence of family trauma, including:

  • Families with one or more parent deployed to war
  • Native American families living on reservations
  • Immigrant and refugee families
  • Families involved in the juvenile justice and/or child welfare systems
  • Families in which a parent has been killed

A National Resource for Family Trauma

The Center for Resilient Families is an outgrowth of our efforts at Ambit Network. Ambit Network has worked to increase access to quality care and evidence-based treatment services for children who have experienced a wide range of trauma: violence, automobile accidents, natural disasters or military parents deployed in a warzone. For the last decade, we’ve worked with nearly 100 mental health agencies throughout the state and trained 600 clinicians to deliver evidence-based, trauma-focused, cognitive behavioral therapy.

It’s been a highly successful program, and our team is excited to take our efforts nationwide with a goal of ultimately serving thousands more families experiencing traumatic events.

Abigail Gewirtz

About the Author

Abigail Gewirtz, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Department of Family Social Science and the Institute of Child Development
  • Principal Investigator, ADAPT
  • College of Education and Human Development (CEHD)
  • University of Minnesota

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