In addressing child sexual abuse, treatment and prevention efforts often focus on protecting children from adult abusers. Reports from the National Children’s Alliance show, however, that 15 to 20 percent of children referred to child advocacy centers are victimized by another minor. North Carolina has strong trauma-informed treatment options in place to care for victims, but child-serving professionals also need reliable resources to care for children who exhibit problematic sexual behavior (PSB). A child who commits sexual abuse or assault is often a child who has suffered trauma or other threats to his or her safety and well-being.
Responding to this need, the NC Child Treatment Program (NC CTP) has launched a new training platform to address the treatment gap for PSB. NC CTP is the Center for Child & Family Health’s flagship training program and provides training in trauma-informed, evidence-based treatment models to hundreds of North Carolina therapists each year. Over the course of two years, NC CTP worked with the NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services to evaluate the current clinical service array for childhood PSB. They identified Problematic Sexual Behavior Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (PSB-CBT) as the most promising set of scalable, evidence-based/evidence-informed treatment models to be disseminated through the new training platform.
NC CTP will contract with the Oklahoma University Health and Sciences Center (OUHSC) to bring the preschool, school age, and adolescent PSB-CBT models to North Carolina. In this first phase of the project, the OUHSC team will train three cohorts of licensed therapists to deliver PSB-CBT to individual clients in outpatient and residential settings. They will also develop a small team of in-state regional trainers, bringing long-term, sustainable training capacity to our state.
“Problematic sexual behavior has long been recognized as a significant public health issue in North Carolina,” says Dana Hagele, Co-Director of NC CTP. “The launch of this coordinated clinical assessment and treatment platform brings a much-needed resource to the state. We’re excited to take on the challenge of PSB workforce development and are committed to ensuring that children and teens have access to effective treatment in their communities. The launch of this program represents the first step toward that goal.”
Joining the NC CTP team to support the implementation of the new training platform are Clinical Program Director, Nikki Croteau-Johnson, MA, LPA, and Program Manager/Improvement Advisor, Ben Cobb, MSc. Nikki brings over 17 years of clinical experience in the assessment and treatment of problematic sexual behavior in children and adolescents in outpatient and forensic settings. Ben brings experience in public health implementation research through his academic work at Duke University and in program management experience working with homeless populations.
Training will begin in January 2020 with the first cohort learning the school-age model of PSB-CBT. In the meantime, NC CTP will focus on recruiting state and local advisory boards to support the development of referral networks and payment structures, raise community awareness, and promote systems-level coordination across stakeholder groups serving this population.
The launch of the PSB training platform was made possible by a two-year funding commitment from the NC Division of Mental Health.
“We’re excited to help fund this initiative,” says Eric Harbour, Lead for Child Behavioral Health at the Division of Mental Health. “Once this model reaches a statewide scale and there is more access to PSB treatment, we’ll be able to reduce our reliance on restrictive, residential interventions that cost so much more.”
To learn more, see the executive summary, which also includes an overview of the two-year exploratory process through which NC CTP and the NC Division of Mental Health developed the Problematic Sexual Behavior initiative.
Pictured above: NC CTP welcomes new team members Ben Cobb, PSB Program Manager/ Improvement Advisor, and Nikki Croteau-Johnson, PSB Clinical Program Director, with NC CTP Co-Director Dana Hagele.