NCTSN Publishes Three Key Articles in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice

The August issue of Professional Psychology: Research and Practice (2008; Volume 39; Issue 4) features three articles contributed by NCTSN members and NCCTS staff. The first article is an overview of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. The second is an article on creating trauma-informed systems. This third piece is on innovations in disaster mental health. These well-written articles share the rich resources of our vast Network with practitioners interested in learning more about child trauma.

Professional Psychology: Research and Practice publishes conceptual and data-based articles on the issues and methods involved in the practice of psychology. Topics encompass a broad range, including health psychology, community psychology, family psychology, forensic psychology, and clinical neuropsychology.

Abstracts of the three NCTSN articles are below. Visit the journal's website for information on accessing the full text of each article.

Featured NCTSN Articles

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Collaborating to improve the standard of care. Pynoos, Robert S; Fairbank, John A.; Steinberg, Alan M.; Amaya-Jackson, Lisa; Gerrity, Ellen; Mount, Mary L.; Maze, Jenifer. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Vol 39(4), Aug 2008, 389-395. doi: 10.1037/a0012551

Mental health practitioners are often called upon to provide services to children, adolescents, and families in the aftermath of traumatic experiences such as child neglect, sexual or physical abuse, family/domestic violence, sexual assault, interpersonal violence, school and community violence, serious accidental injury, catastrophic medical illness, traumatic bereavement, or mass casualty events, including natural and man-made disasters. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) was established in 2001 to raise the standard of care and improve access to services for traumatized children, their families, and communities throughout the United States. This article describes the development of the NCTSN, its structure, programs, and many of the products and resources--including online lectures, training programs and videos, and searchable databases of child trauma resources--available through the NCTSN Web site ( to assist professionals in providing state-of-the-art assessment, treatment, and services to these children and their families. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)

Creating trauma-informed systems: Child welfare, education, first responders, health care, juvenile justice. Ko, Susan J.; Ford, Julian D.; Kassam-Adams, Nancy; Berkowitz, Steven J.; Wilson, Charles; Wong, Marleen; Brymer, Melissa J.; Layne, Christopher M. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Vol 39(4), Aug 2008, 396-404. doi: 10.1037/0735-7028.39.4.396

Children and adolescents who are exposed to traumatic events are helped by numerous child-serving agencies, including health, mental health, education, child welfare, first responder, and criminal justice systems to assist them in their recovery. Service providers need to incorporate a trauma-informed perspective in their practices to enhance the quality of care for these children. This includes making sure that children and adolescents are screened for trauma exposure; that service providers use evidence-informed practices; that resources on trauma are available to providers, survivors, and their families; and that there is a continuity of care across service systems. This article reviews how traumatic stress impacts children and adolescents' daily functioning and how various service systems approach trauma services differently. It also provides recommendations for how to make each of these service systems more trauma informed and an appendix detailing resources in the National Child Traumatic Stress Network that have been produced to meet this objective. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)

Innovations in disaster mental health: Psychological first aid. Vernberg, Eric M.; Steinberg, Alan M.; Jacobs, Anne K.; Brymer, Melissa J.; Watson, Patricia J.; Osofsky, Joy D.; Layne, Christopher M.; Pynoos, Robert S.; Ruzek, Josef I. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Vol 39(4), Aug 2008, 381-388. doi: 10.1037/a0012663

Professional psychologists are called upon to deal with a broad array of crises and traumatic events. However, training and expertise in crisis response varies widely among practitioners, and there has been considerable controversy about the value of widely disseminated mental health crisis intervention protocols that include "debriefing" as an essential feature. This article gives an overview of the developmental process, guiding principles, and core actions of the Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide (PFA Guide), which provides guidance for practitioners in responding to immediate mental health needs of children, adults, and families who have recently experienced a disaster or terrorist event. Issues in training, provider self-care, and evaluation research are also presented. The PFA Guide presents approaches thought to be most consistently supported by current research and practice so that they can be taught, used, and evaluated in field settings. Although we expect further refinement as more systematic research becomes available, the PFA Guide represents a sustained collaborative effort to define current evidence-informed best practices that can be utilized now by practitioners involved in disaster mental health responses. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)