Evidence Based Trauma Treatment

During the 2010-2011 academic year, the School piloted a project that was funded by a grant from the National Center on Social Work Trauma Education and Workforce Development (National Center). The National Center’s mission is to address the existing critical shortage of front line social workers able to provide child trauma treatment by building workforce capacity to deliver culturally competent, evidence-based child trauma treatment in our communities through building the capacity of schools of social work, social work students, and community based agencies. This vitally important work has broad impact because social workers constitute the largest mental health discipline on the front line serving potentially traumatized children every day.  In the first year participants included 9 students and 13 field instructors representing 8 agencies. In the second year participants included 20 students, 17 additional field instructors and 10 additional agencies from across the State

As part of this project, a specialized MSW field placement is available to students in the clinical concentration as part of our MSW Certificate Program. Participation in this opportunity allows selected students to demonstrate specialization and competence particular to this subject and practice area.

Field instructors from child and family serving agencies across the state are trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and participate in ongoing consultation around implementing this treatment approach and supporting students. TF-CBT is an evidence-based practice found to have positive outcomes with children, adolescents, and their families who have experienced single or multiple traumas. Family member work together to learn new skills to help process thoughts and feelings related to traumatic life events; manage and resolve distressing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related traumatic life events; and enhance safety, growth, parenting skills, and family communication.

All participating students take a unique course developed by experts affiliated with the National Center. Core Concepts in Trauma Treatment for Children and Adolescents uses problem based learning to teach students about evidence based practice and the developmental impacts of a range of trauma types, including community violence, interpersonal violence, abuse, neglect, war, and national disaster. In addition to taking this course students also complete intensive training in TF-CBT.

Michigan State University collaborates with Western Michigan University to provide the TF-CBT training to both field instructors and students. Both schools participate in the National Center’s full educational model involving the triad of students, faculty, and community agencies. Based on the successful pilot project and overwhelming positive response from community agencies, the School moved to continue and strengthen this special curriculum under the leadership of Cheryl Williams-Hecksel.

Participating Field Agencies

  • Bethany Christian Services, Grand Rapids
  • Child and Family Charities, Lansing
  • Child and Family Services of NW Michigan, Traverse City
  • Child and Family Services of Saginaw, Sexual Assault Services      
  • Children’s Services of Clinton-Eaton-Ingham CMH, Lansing
  • DA Blodgett, Grand Rapids
  • EVE (End Violent Encounters), Lansing
  • Family and Child Services of Midland
  • Family Services & Children’s Aid Society, Jackson
  • Highfields, Inc., Jackson
  • Judson Center, Warren
  • Lutheran Social Services of MI, Lansing
  • Lutheran Social Services of MI, Flint
  • St. Vincent Catholic Charities, Lansing
  • Teaching Family Homes, Marquette
  • Turning Point Youth Center, St. Johns

The MSU School of Social Work has developed this opportunity through a partnership with the National Center for Social Work Trauma Education and Workforce Development (National Center) at Fordham University and Hunter College. The National Center is a member of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) whose goal is to raise the standard of care and improve access to services throughout the US for children and adolescents and their families, who have experienced trauma. The National Center is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) through the NCTSN.