Trauma Center Launches at the Mandel School

Image of logo labeled center on trauma and adversity, jack, joseph and morton mandel school of applied social sciences, case western reserve university, in blue against a white background, with planet and star school logo on left

Due to its widespread impact and long-term effects, trauma has emerged as a significant public health concern throughout the world. It is now the focus of a new training and research center at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, the top-ranked school of social work at Case Western Reserve University.

The Center on Trauma and Adversity aims to reduce the impact of trauma and adversity through advanced training and integrated research to develop a skilled trauma-informed workforce.

headshot of Megan R. Holmes

The Trauma Center was established on April 2, 2018, by a group of Mandel School faculty with expertise in trauma and clinical social work. Its Founding Director is Assistant Professor Megan R. Holmes, PhD.

The Trauma Center was created to respond to the need for trauma-focused research and the development of trained social workers who can effectively assess, intervene, and treat people and communities affected by trauma—to help them experience healing, overcome adversity, reduce suffering, and achieve recovery and resilience.

The training focus of the Trauma Center bridges the classroom and the community, expanding trauma-informed knowledge to social work master’s students through innovative curriculum and field placements (internships) at partner agencies. The Trauma Center seeks to establish student fellowships for specialized trauma training in partner agencies that serve children, youth, families or communities who have experienced trauma. As part of the fellowship, students will receive special training in trauma assessment/intervention and prevention of secondary post-traumatic stress; partner agencies will receive recommendations, planning, and training to become more trauma-informed; and more individuals and communities will be helped in more effective ways.

The research focus of the Trauma Center will be on empirical examination of the effects of trauma and adversity, protective factors associated with promoting resilience, and the development of interventions for children, youth and families. Research projects will also create strategic pre-doctoral, doctoral and postdoctoral training opportunities and provide a model for advanced collaborative research and mentoring. Current research projects by Trauma Center members include the areas of intimate partner violence, prenatal drug exposure, foster care, adoption, trauma history and symptomology measurement, early intervention practices, and maternal psychopathology and substance use.

Assistant Professor Jennifer A. King, DSW, LISW, will serve as Assistant Director. Other Trauma Center members include Marjorie N. Edguer, PhD, LISW-S, LICDC-CS; Victor K. Groza, PhD; Amy Korsch-Williams, MSSA, CNM, LISW-S; Gerald Mahoney, PhD; Meeyoung Min, PhD; Sonia Minnes, PhD; and Laura Voith, PhD.

To keep up with training and research news from the Trauma Center, visit its website or follow it on Twitter: @CenterOnTrauma.

The Trauma Center builds upon the Mandel School’s longstanding commitment to establishing research centers that elevate knowledge while engaging in real-world solutions to society’s most pressing problems. The Trauma Center joins the following centers in highlighting the Mandel School’s depth of research expertise, leadership in social science innovation, and synergistic opportunities for collaboration

  • Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education has been dedicated for more than 20 years to the multidisciplinary study of the causes of violence, the development and evaluation of scientifically based violence prevention programs, and the advancement of widely applicable violence prevention policies and training. The Begun Center serves as a research, training, and technical assistance partner to national, state, and local organizations. It offers trauma-informed care training, technical assistance, and consultation for practitioners and state agencies through its Center for Innovative Practices.
  • Center for Evidence-Based Practices is a technical assistance center that promotes recovery among people with mental illness, substance use disorders, and co-occurring disorders through the implementation of evidence-based practices. It utilizes the six core principles of trauma-informed care in its work and supports the statewide trauma-informed care initiative of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
  • Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development was founded in 1988 to understand, address and reduce poverty through innovative data and analysis of its human, social and economic implications to help inform program planning and public policies.
  • National Initiative on Mixed Income Communities is the nation’s central resource about mixed-income housing and communities, providing research, technical assistance, information dissemination, network-building and maintenance, and strategic consultation to help reduce urban poverty and the segregation of the poor.

Adverse childhood experiences such as maltreatment, exposure to domestic violence, and parental substance use are traumatic or stressful events that lower an individual’s capacity to cope or adapt to future stressful events. Traumatic stress involves a threat to emotional or physical safety, results in feeling vulnerability and loss of control, leaves people feeling helpless and fearful, and interferes with relationships and beliefs (Herman, 1997).

Childhood exposure to adverse experiences occurs at alarming rates in the United States. It is estimated that before turning 18 years old, two-thirds of all youth (63.9%) will experience one or more adverse childhood experience with 12.5% experiencing four or more (Felitti et al., 1998). Although children who experience adverse experiences are at heightened risk of developing emotional, behavioral, cognitive, mental health and physical health problems, not all children display such problems. In fact, some children continue to thrive and achieve adaptive development despite their early adverse life events. Resilience, in general, refers to the capacity for successful adaptation in the face of adversity.