Carla Smith Stover PhD

Assistant Professor (Adjunct) in the Child Study Center

Research Interests

Domestic violence; Recidivism; Interventions for families impacted by violence including fathers who perpetrate domestic violence; Domestic violence and substance abuse

Current Projects

Annie E. Casey Foundation 06/01/2008-05/31/2010 Integrated Father Treatment for Domestic Violence Role: Principal Investigator

NIDA 1K23DA023334-01A2 07/01/09-06/30/14 Integrated Treatment for Fathers who Perpetrate Domestic Violence-Treatment Development Study

Research Summary

My research interests are focused on the impact of violence and trauma (particularly family violence) on child development and the advancement of best practice interventions for children and families affected by such violence exposure. I am interested in the neurobiological and cognitive impact of violence exposure on children and how that might translate into understanding best treatment approaches. At the National Center for Children Exposed to Violence (NCCEV), we are interested in developing early intervention strategies for families impacted by a traumatic event. I recently completed an evaluation of a police-advocacy-mental health outreach program following an incident of domestic violence (DV). This has increased my interest in engagement strategies for families and providing the most comprehensive and appropriate treatment following DV. I am currently a co-investigator on a study of a brief, four session intervention that attempts to prevent posttraumatic stress symptoms and disorders in children following exposure to a potentially traumatic event. I am also piloting an integrated treatment approach for families impacted by domestic violence that focuses on the perpetrator's role as a father. The treatment addresses the overlap between domestic violence, substance abuse, and child maltreatment.

Extensive Research Description

I began my research career as a graduate student with the University of California San Francisco’s Child Trauma Research Project. This was a hospital-based program under the direction of Drs. Alicia Lieberman and Patricia Van Horn. I worked within their program for three years and was intimately involved in their NIMH funded research project studying the efficacy and manualization of Child-Parent Psychotherapy for young children exposed to violence. I interviewed mothers, conducted assessments with young children, coded video play sessions, and aided in data management. In addition to my research experience and work, I was trained and supervised in Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP). After working with this research team, I became interested in the relationships that children had with their previously violent fathers. I developed my own study, which became my doctoral dissertation, examining the behavioral, cognitive, and emotional implications of father visitation in domestic violence families. Results revealed that preschool aged children with little to no contact with their fathers had higher rates of internalizing symptoms regardless of the severity of violence perpetrated by the father toward the mother. In addition, children (especially boys) who had more contact with their fathers had fewer negative representations of their mothers in play. These data suggest that ending the violence and continuing contact with fathers when possible can yield better outcomes for children.

I came to the Yale Child Study Center to complete my internship and postdoctoral training. Over the last 5 years, I have been involved in patient-oriented research particularly focused on intervention development, evaluation and dissemination for families experiencing domestic violence. I have published multiple papers and research studies from this work. The most recently accepted manuscripts detail the results of a longitudinal study based on a successful grant application to the Ethel F. Donaghue Women’s Health Research at Yale. This study examined the impact of an innovative domestic violence home visit intervention (DVHVI) on repeat violence rates in the home, victims’ engagement in supportive and therapeutic services for themselves and their children. One hundred and nine women were recruited to participate in the longitudinal evaluation study (N= 53 intervention and 56 controls). Women were interviewed at baseline, within 30 days of the initial domestic incident that required standard police intervention and qualified them for the study, then again at 6 months and 1 year following the initial interview (Stover, Berkman, Desai,&Marans, in press). Additionally, I have studied police record and clinical data on a large sample of domestic violence victims referred for services to help determine factors associated with engagement in the domestic violence outreach service (Stover, Rainey, Berkman&Marans, 2008) and which components of the DVHVI might impact increased utilization of police (Stover, Poole,&Marans, 2009). I have been a co-investigator on the SAMHSA funded Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI) pilot evaluation. The CFTSI is a 4-session secondary prevention model to prevent the development of PTSD following exposure to a traumatic event. A randomized pilot was completed in the summer 2009 and findings suggest the CFTSI is a powerful PTSD prevention stategy. We have begun dissemination training using a learning collaborative methodology in Child Advocacy Centers in New York City. We’ve been collecting data on implementation of the CFTSI to aid in a future RTC. I have responded to over 100 domestic violence incidents and provided in-home and office consultation to families following police intervention. Through my research and clinical work with these families, I became aware of the need for more coordinated and integrated treatments that address issues of domestic violence, substance abuse, trauma, and parenting that are not fully addressed by the intervention models that I have been trained to use with this population. This led me to begin developing a new intervention approach (Integrated Father Treatment for DV). I was recently awarded a small direct service grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and began the development of IFT-DV for fathers with co-morbid substance abuse and domestic violence problems who have children under the age of 7 years. In conjunction, I have been awarded a K23 to develop and conduct a pilot evaluation of this integrated treatment for fathers. This program of research will support the following research projects: 1) collection of quanitative data on the self-reported parenting stress, behaviors, and child-parent relationships of male perpetrators of intimate partner violence with comorbid substance abuse compared to matched controls and 2) manual development and initial evaluation via a Stage 1b randomized pilot of Integrated Father Treatment for Domestic Violence (IFT-DV) for this population of men which incorporates state-of-the-art substance abuse, domestic violence, and child-trauma treatment approaches. Social service systems rarely acknowledge the status of men as fathers in the conceptualization and delivery of treatment for substance abuse or domestic violence. Although there has been extensive focus on the treatment of mothers who abuse substances, are victims of intimate partner violence (IPV), or maltreat their children, there has been little consideration of the need for interventions for fathers with histories of co-morbid IPV and substance abuse. The enormous rates of intimate partner violence, substance abuse, and child maltreatment constitute a major public health concern. Given the high rates of comorbidity, there is a pressing need for more integrated evidence-based treatments to address the issues facing these families.


Selected Publications

  • Stover, C. S., McMahon, T., Easton, C. (2012). Fathers Entering Substance Abuse Treatment: An Examination of Substance Abuse, Trauma Symptoms and Parenting Behaviors. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.
  • Stover, C. S., Connell, C., Leve, L., Neiderhiser, J. M, Shaw, D. S., Scaramella, L. V., Conger, R., & Reiss, D. (2012). Fathering and Mothering in the Family System: Linking Marital Hostility and Aggression in Adopted Toddlers. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53, 401-409.
  • Stover, C. S., McMahon, T., & Easton, C. (2011) The Impact of Fatherhood on Treatment Response for Men with Comorbid Alcohol Dependence and Intimate Partner Violence. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
  • Berkowitz, S., Stover, C.S. & Marans, S. (2010). The Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention: Secondary Prevention for Youth at Risk Youth of Developing PTSD. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
  • Stover, C. S., Berkman, M., Desai, R., and Marans, S. (2010). The efficacy of a police-advocacy intervention for victims of domestic violence: 12-month follow-up data. Violence Against Women, 16(4), 410-425.
  • Stover, C. S., Meadows, A., & Kaufman, J. (2009). Interventions for Intimate Partner Violence: Review and Directions for Evidence Based Practice. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40, 223-233
  • Wilson, H., Stover, C. S., & Berkowitz, S. (2008). The Relationship between Childhood Violence Exposure and Juvenile Antisocial Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50.

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