Research Objectives:

The program seeks to identify the risk and protective factors that influence response to traumatic events in children and adults across the life span. These factors lay the foundation for the core of research which focuses on the development, testing and dissemination of effective programs for the prevention or recovery from PTSD and other trauma-related disorders.

*School Based Intervention Program
This program has provided an estimated 4,500 children and their families in the New York City downtown community public schools with a range of mental health services in response to the events of 9/11 and now continues to provide prevention and intervention programs related to ongoing exposure to community and other forms of violence to which children are commonly exposed. Programs are skills-based with a focus on developing and enhancing resiliency in meeting various common life stressors and adversities. The program also provides workshops to parents and families, consultation and problem solving strategies for principals, and psycho-education on the effects of trauma and its management to teachers and guidance counselors.

Director: Elizabeth Mullett, Ph.D.

*Foster Care and Child Mental Health Program
This program serves preschool children placed in foster care who have experienced neglect or abuse. The goal of the program is to identify factors that facilitate social and emotional adjustment, such as sibling placement and the quality of relationships between the biological parent, agency and foster parent. A comprehensive intervention program that integrates parenting skills development and family therapy for the biological parent and foster parent is being evaluated. This program has links to over 20 foster care agencies and is the foundation for future prevention and early intervention to ameliorate the effects of interpersonal violence and other traumas on preschool children.

Director: L. Oriana Linares, Ph.D.

*Trauma, Life Skills and Resilience in Adult Years
The program includes assessment and treatment of adults who experienced sexual or physical abuse in childhood or physical/sexual assault in adulthood. The program provides 16 session psychotherapy with a focus on developing skills emotion regulation and interpersonal relationships to enhance the quality of day-to-day life, which are often derailed in childhood as a result of abuse. MRI scans are included both before and after treatment to identify brain activity during standard tasks reflecting emotion regulation capacities before treatment and potential changes brought about by treatment.

Director: Marylene Cloitre, Ph.D.

*Can Psychotherapy Change the Brain?: fMRI Assessments of PTSD Before and After Treatment
This study in its eighth year of investigation focuses on identifying the neural circuitry of the brain among adults with PTSD. The study is also assessing whether and what kinds of changes occur in the brain during the course of cognitive-behavioral therapy (talk therapy) as well during a medication treatment. The study is also identifying whether the types of brain changes that occur differ by type of treatment and by how effective the treatment is in positively affecting the individual’s emotional, behavioral and psychological profile.

Project Director: Christie Jackson

Completed Projects

*Silver Shield Bereavement Program
This program was established within the first few months following 9/11 to provide psycho-education and social services to the families who had a parent in the uniformed services whose life was lost. Services included outreach and education about how to tell children about the death of a parent, how to watch children for signs of normal distress as well as signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other psychiatric disturbances, and how to maintain family functioning and good coping in the aftermath of tragedy. Prevention and intervention services were available to children and family members. Currently, long-term services are still available, through our Families Forward Program, focusing on enhancing resilience.

*Healthy Kids, Happy Futures
This campaign provided education and outreach to more than 3,000 pediatricians in the metropolitan New York City area about evidenced-based treatment and assessment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression, to help identify at-risk children and teenagers, and assist in their referral for appropriate treatment. The campaign was comprised of a brochure, video and lecture series for pediatricians, and tip sheets for pediatricians to give to parents and family members.

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*Oral History "Telling Lives" Project
This project developed and employed an oral history curriculum in which children from four Chinatown schools, served by the program's School-Based Intervention Program, were given concrete opportunities to explore genres of storytelling in multigenerational and multicultural contexts using a variety of media to address the multiple layers of the impact of 9/11 on individual lives, neighborhoods, communities and the educational system. Stories, artifacts and other memorabilia collected for the project were preserved and stored at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas. The oral histories were conducted on audio and videotape, in Chinese and in English. The project was a collaborative effort of the program, the Columbia University Oral History Research Office, Downtown Community Television, the Museum of Chinese in the Americas and PS/IS 126, PS 2 and Manhattan Academy of Technology.


Director: Elizabeth Mullett, Ph.D.

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