Severe behavior problems are common in children who have experienced trauma. Aggression and non-compliance can be defense mechanisms for a child whose world is unsafe and threatening.
The treatments our therapists use in the Urbaniak Clinic reliably reduce problem behaviors in children, but some families face an impasse: their child’s behaviors prevent them from participating in the therapies that would improve the behaviors. In those cases, the determining factor will be a parent’s skill in managing and influencing their child’s behavior.
So, CCFH is adding a new evidence-based treatment to its toolkit: Parent Management Training – The Oregon Model (PMTO). PMTO is a positive reinforcement model that replaces coercion with more effective practices, including skill encouragement, limit setting, monitoring, positive involvement, and problem solving. And it is effective with children from ages 3 to 17.
Four CCFH therapists are taking part in an intensive training program through the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). They have attended eight days of onsite instruction in Minnesota, and are now taking parents through the model in two groups. On a weekly basis, they submit videos for review by the master trainers for assessment and feedback.
“What’s so powerful is that it really focuses on parents as their child’s best teacher,” says Katie Linn, one of the therapists implementing the new model, “and we’re seeing parents come in each week feeling more positive, hopeful, and resilient.”
PMTO training is usually expensive, plus the added cost of billable hours that therapists sacrifice while training. CCFH is receiving the training for free, though, because of its membership in NCTSN. “If I could have waved a magic wand,” says Kelly Sullivan, Director of Mental Health Services, “this is what I would have wanted to happen.”