The pandemic has introduced trauma in the lives of many children, whether directly from the death of a family member or indirectly by exposing children at home all day to domestic abuse. But whatever the cause, therapists see family relationships as one of the greatest tools in allowing children to cope.
That’s why Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation over the past year and a half provided a $300,000 grant to the FSU Center for Prevention and Early Intervention to help train a Sarasota cohort of mental health clinicians in the practice of Child Parent Psychotherapy.
The final training session for the group of therapists convened on Friday via Zoom, and participants discussed with SRQ MEDIA the value of “the power of a parent to heal their child.”
Kristie Skoglund, chief operating officer for The Florida Center for Early Childhood, said the therapy has been deployed in childhood court to great success in the 12th Judicial Circuit. “The child welfare system has been a big referral source,” she said. Programs like Healthy Family and Healthy Start often serve families with a child exposed to trauma, or expectant mothers exposed to trauma.
There’s actually been enough demand for service that there’s a bottleneck of clients waiting, according to the Barancik Foundation, which is one of the reasons the cohort worked to train individuals in the therapy and also to train others in teaching it as well.
Dr. Joy Osofsky, a professor in Louisiana State University’s Departments of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, was among the leaders for the sessions, and she said the entire mental health field has been impacted by the pandemic. That could be seen clearly in the fact the cohort, which convened its first gathering in person, has had to work almost entirely on Zoom. Similarly, much of the work therapists have done in the past year had to be through video-conferencing rather than personal sessions.
But she said the pandemic has been accompanied with an increase in domestic and child abuse across the nation. That makes all the more demand for Child Parent Psychotherapy.
Heidy Garcia, one of the experts in psychotherapy training the cohort, said the use of Child Parent Psychotherapy was especially important as courts try to keep families together and as loved ones spend so much more time each day together thanks to remote work and virtual education. “We all get hurt in relationships and we all get healed in relationships,” she said. “That’s the reality.”