Newtown Recovery Update

Since the afternoon of December 14th, the Yale Trauma Resilience and Recovery Team has been working to respond to the unfolding needs of the Newtown Community. Our team at the Yale Child Study Center led by Steven Marans and including Carrie Epstein, Hilary Hahn, Joe Woolston and Megan Goslin, has taken--together with Steve Southwick, William Sledge and others from the Department of Psychiatry -- the lead for the University and the Medical School in our efforts to be of help. We have been coordinating closely with a team from Clifford Beers Clinic, with Julian Ford at the University of Connecticut, with Bob Franks of CHDI, and with colleagues within the wider National Child Traumatic Stress Network in our efforts to be of help to the Newtown community. We have also been coordinating with colleagues from the VA including Wendy Basset and Greer Richardson and the National Center for PTSD including Matthew Friedman, Patti Resick, Patricia Watson, Lori Slone and Jessica Hamblen.

Throughout the response, the Yale Team has been in regular contact with state and local leadership to identify needs and coordinate resources and efforts. Direct efforts of the Yale Team have been primarily in the following areas:

  • Enhancing local capacity to respond
  • School-based response
  • Direct service and consultation to children and families

Enhancing Local Capacity to Respond

Members of the Yale Team focused initial efforts on providing support and consultation to local health and mental health providers. Dedicated clinicians from local organizations requested and received support from the Yale Team around providing trauma-informed care in the acute traumatic period. The Yale Team coordinated with the Newtown Coordinating Council to enhance local capacity among mental health and primary care providers to respond to the needs of the community. Subsequently, the Yale Team has provided training in screening and assessment to mental health and primary care providers from the local Newtown area focused on:

  • Application of trauma-focused screening tools in primary health care settings to help identify symptomatic children, adolescents, families and individual adults
  • Review of indications for referral for trauma-focused mental health interventions and treatment
  • Application of trauma-focused clinical assessment strategies and early clinical intervention techniques for mental health providers

In addition, with support from the Morgan Stanley Foundation and the National Center for PTSD, and in coordination with the Newtown Coordinating Council, the Yale Team has offered training by nationally recognized certified Master Trainers on the evidence-based trauma-focused treatments Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). A list of trained providers is being developed and will be circulated via the Newtown Coordinating Council.

School-based Response

Responding to specific requests from the Superintendent of Schools and the Principal of the Sandy Hook School in Monroe, the Yale Team has been deeply involved in recovery efforts at the school. Our efforts were focused in a 1st grade classroom including placing  a member of the Child Study Center’s Childhood Violent Trauma Center, Dr. Megan Goslin in the elementary school who has provided classroom-based interventions with students, as well as support to teachers and parents impacted by the tragedy of December 14. In addition, Steven Marans and Carrie Epstein have included regular meetings with school administrators, teachers, parents as well as drawing on their extensive experience in helping to shape approaches to recovery of traumatized children, families and communities.

Direct Service and for Children and Families

The Childhood Violent Trauma Center of the Yale Child Study Center has been able to offer therapy to children and families affected by the tragedy of December 14th. Our highly trained staff of child psychologists, social workers and psychiatrists has offered assessment and trauma treatment including the following evidence-based treatments: Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Treatment has been provided free of charge to the families in need.

This article was submitted by Emily E.H. Hau on April 23, 2013.