• June 2012
  • Vol. 13, No. 5

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Treatment Network for Traumatized Youth

North Dakota's efforts to create a statewide network of treatment providers for traumatized youth are described in a recent article published in Behaviour Research and Therapy. A coalition of universities, research institutes, and State and community-level mental health agencies formed the Treatment Collaborative for Traumatized Youth (TCTY) in 2006 after they determined that North Dakota's abused and neglected children were not receiving adequate evidence-based treatments to reduce the impact of the psychological trauma they experienced. The TCTY also aimed to remedy the fact that the State did not have a central organization to coordinate mental health services for traumatized children and youth.

Contributors to the TCTY set out to identify appropriate child-focused, evidence-based trauma therapy, develop a system to efficiently disseminate treatment options to clinicians, and monitor outcomes for children and youth receiving treatment. The TCTY's structure was based on the National Child Traumatic Stress Network's "learning collaborative" model, in which one coordinating center oversees collaboration between academic centers that design and disseminate evidence-based treatments and State and community organizations that provide mental health services to children and their families.

TCTY researchers implemented two evidence-based treatment models: Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress (SPARCS) and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). The TCTY organized its efforts to implement these treatment models statewide in several phases, including:

  • Invite clinicians to receive training, assign readings, and hold a pretraining conference call
  • Offer a 2-day training workshop for clinicians and provide 6 months of posttraining support
  • Identify and prepare a subset of clinicians to serve as trainers in their own communities and establish local training teams
  • Solidify the data collection system to gather assessment results and outcomes for children and youth receiving treatment

The authors of the article identified certain areas in which the TCTY experienced difficulties, particularly data collection problems due to insufficient time and resources of clinical staff to input data as well as children dropping out of the program or being inaccessible due to frequent moves. Despite these setbacks, the TCTY has shown promising results, having trained 100 clinicians and treated nearly 600 children. To support continuous improvement, the TCTY now holds an annual training conference for clinicians and others involved in children's treatment and has developed a web-based system for treatment providers to more easily input data. North Dakota's Department of Human Services has entered into a more formal partnership with the TCTY to expand its dissemination of evidence-based treatments, including offering training to child protection workers and foster parents to better understand traumatized children's treatment needs.

"Evidence-Based Mental Health Interventions for Traumatized Youth: A Statewide Dissemination Project" was written by S. A. Wonderlich et al. and was published in Behaviour Research and Therapy, 49, 2011. It is available on the ScienceDirect website: 



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