October 19, 2006
Contact: Jerry Carey
Phone: (856) 566-6171
UMDNJ Psychologist Leads Efforts to Help Children of Katrina
STRATFORD — In November, Dr. Esther Deblinger, co-founder and co-director of the CARES Institute at the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine, will be making her second trip to the Gulf Coast region, leading an effort to help children in the area to recover from the lingering psychological effects caused by Hurricane Katrina.
“Research indicates that as many as half of all school-age children from areas hit hardest by Katrina could suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder,” Dr. Deblinger said. “The storm destroyed much of the region’ s mental health system, making it nearly impossible for these children to get the care they need to deal with the emotional difficulties they may be suffering. Without help from specially-trained therapists, even small children will experience post-traumatic stress symptoms - withdrawal, depression, sleeplessness and unusually aggressive behavior - that can remain with them throughout their lives.”
During her upcoming trip to New Orleans, Dr. Deblinger and Felicia Neubauer, a therapist from the CARES Institute, will work with 65 therapists from around the Gulf Coast to help those therapists respond better to the mental health needs of children in the region. The training will focus on the use of Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), a nationally recognized treatment model that Dr. Deblinger developed with Drs. Judith Cohen and Anthony Mannarino, of Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. Studies have shown that this unique treatment model is particularly effective in helping children overcome trauma.
“We will be providing intensive skill training for our peers in the Gulf Coast region, along with continuing consultation services for supervisors and program leaders over the next eight months,” Dr. Deblinger said. “ This will support their efforts to share their training with other mental health providers, extending the benefits of the program to children throughout the region.”
The training program is being made possible by generous gifts from the ShopRite Disaster Relief Fund and by physicians who donated their honoraria from the UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine’s Family Medicine Review Board program in September. The coordination of this learning collaborative is also supported by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and Catholic Charities/Trauma Recovery for Youth in Jackson, Miss.
To arrange an interview with Dr. Deblinger, please contact Jerry Carey, UMDNJ News Service, at (856) 566-6171 or at (973) 972-3000.
The CARES (Child Abuse Research, Education and Service) Institute provides an array of medical and mental health services developed to meet the diagnostic and therapeutic needs of children and families who have experienced abuse, neglect and violence. The CARES Institute also provides training on best practices and on the medical and mental health needs of children to law enforcement, child protection, medical, mental health and social work professionals throughout New Jersey an around the world.
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.