Author Archive

Save the date: ITR’s fall symposium on innovations in implementation science

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

WHAT: Innovations in implementation science: Bridging the science-to-practice gap to increase children’s access to quality mental health services

WHEN: October 4-5, 2018

WHERE: Minneapolis, MN

HOW MUCH: $50 ($25 for students)


More details and speaker topics to follow. Questions? Contact

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A guide to forming advisory boards for family-serving organizations

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

Forming an advisory board can feel like adding yet another box to check in the path to getting something done. But a well-planned advisory board will make your work better, not harder, by providing broader perspective, ensuring you are empowering those you serve, and creating ambassadors for your work.

A new tool from ITR’s Center for Resilient Families, in collaboration with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and Family Informed Trauma Treatment Center, is the first comprehensive guide to forming an advisory board with a trauma-informed approach for organizations that serve families. In clear language and achievable steps, it walks you through the process of forming a board and highlights the common decisions that groups have to make while outlining the options at each juncture.

This practical and flexible tool will demystify the process and free you up to think about the bigger strategic decisions that will form the bedrock of your board. A well functioning advisory board can help you meaningfully infuse a trauma-informed approach at every level of your organization.


Visit to download the tool.

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Announcing: Tuition-free training in Family Checkup intervention

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

WHAT: Tuition free, intensive training in the renowned Family Check-Up intervention
WHEN: September 24-27, 2018
WHERE: REACH Institute at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ
WHO: Providers and organizations who work with parents and children in schools, community health centers, government agencies, and other settings (providers do not need to be licensed to deliver FCU)
HOW MUCH: Tuition is covered by a federal grant. Participants are responsible for travel and lodging.
APPLY: Apply online here. Applications are due June 8.

Thanks to a federal grant, the Center for Resilient Families and the REACH Institute are offering a tuition-free, three-day intensive training in the renowned Family Check-Up intervention this fall. The training is open to providers and organizations who work with parents and children in schools, community health centers, government agencies, and other settings.

This tuition-free training is an opportunity for providers to expand their impact and advance their career. The training will take place in Tempe, AZ, September 24-27, 2018.

About Family Check-Up

Family Check-Up is a brief and flexible intervention for families with children ages 3-17.  It promotes family well-being and positive child outcomes by improving parenting practices.

The program achieves better outcomes with fewer sessions than many typical family intervention services, allowing the providers that use it to help more families in less time. Family Check-Up is administered as an efficient four-step process: an initial interview, child and family assessment, feedback session, and the ongoing Everyday Parenting curriculum.

The program has been rigorously tested over the past 30 years with thousands of families from diverse economic and cultural groups. The results include:

  • Improved parenting practices
  • Stronger parent-child relationships
  • Reduced depression among mothers
  • Reduced problem behaviors
  • Reduced depression, substance use, antisocial behavior and likelihood for arrest among adolescents.

About the training

For an organization of three, this training and ongoing support would typically cost more than $30,000. Thanks to a federal grant, we are offering the training tuition free for providers who are motivated to help families strengthen positive parenting skills. The training includes:

  • A three-day in-person training
  • Self-paced online training
  • Ongoing consultation sessions, both as a group and individually

Participants are responsible for travel and lodging costs.

“The families I have worked with find it extremely helpful and have noticed significant positive changes in their interactions with their foster children… I would highly recommend this program to anyone working with children and families.”
– Kevin McGrath
Nevada Dept. of Health and Human Services

Learn more

We are hosting two informational calls to answer questions and discuss the training.

Dates: Monday, May 14, 1-2 p.m. OR Thursday, May 17: 11:30-12:30 p.m.
Call-In Number: +1 866 282 7366, access code: 741 362 502

For other questions, contact Tanner Zimmerman: | (612) 624-7722

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Colloquium, April 20: Harvard data scientist on “just in time” interventions

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

One of the longstanding challenges of mental health interventions has been the difficulty in tailoring programs to the needs of individual people. New technology has made it possible to customize the type and amount of support we give an individual based on the state of that person.

As part of ITR’s colloquium series, we are excited to host Harvard University researcher Walter Dempsey to discuss his work on “just-in-time” adaptive interventions aimed at providing the right type/amount of support, at the right time, by adapting to the changing state of the individual. He’ll also discuss the stratified micro-randomized trial (sMRT).

Dr. Dempsey is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Statistics at Harvard University interested in developing and analyzing methods for joint modeling of longitudinal and time-to-event data.

WHEN: Friday, April 20 | Noon to 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: ITR Offices, 1100 S Washington Avenue, Suite 102 (map)
WHO: Dr. Walter Dempsey, Harvard University

Free parking is available and light refreshments will be served.

Full abstract: A just-in-time adaptive intervention (JITAI) is an intervention design aimed at providing the right type/amount of support, at the right time, by adapting to the changing state of the individual. In the first half of this talk, we discuss the scientific motivation of JITAIs and define their key components. We present several mobile health trials in substance use and mental health that generate data that can then be used to inform the construction of JITAIs.

A critical question in the development of JITAIs is, when and in which contexts, is it most useful to push intervention content to the user. This question concerns time-varying dynamic moderation by the context on the effectiveness of in-the-moment interventions on user behavior. In the second half of this talk, we discuss the stratified micro-randomized trial (sMRT) design and present a smoking cessation sMRT designed to assess nested effects of momentary interventions.

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Paid summer fellowships available for graduate students

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

ITR’s fellowship program provides three graduate students with summer support to pursue collaborative research projects involving the development or expansion of evidence-based prevention or treatment interventions in children’s mental health. The program supports ITR’s interdisciplinary, team-based approach to cultivating new ways of solving problems in children’s mental health.

Types of awards: Collaborative research proposals may involve the use of secondary data or a new research proposal. Projects will not be awarded that are solely literature reviews.

Fellowship award: Students will receive a $4,000 summer stipend with an expectation to commit 20-25 hours/week (June-August 2018) to a research project under the direction of an ITR faculty member. It is expected that students will work toward a finished project, such as a conference proposal, article, or grant application. Students must attend ITR colloquia meetings during the 2018-2019 academic year, as well as give a project presentation at a fall colloquium. This is a one-time award. Students who have previously received ITR fellowships are not eligible to apply.

ITR faculty project advisor: Interested students should collaborate with and identify an ITR faculty member.

Apply: Please apply using the 2018 ITR fellowship application form and submit to Chris Bray ( by noon on April 9.

Read more about our 2017 winners here.


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Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

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Colloquium: ​Trauma in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

The event has passed. View the presentation slides here.


While the path from trauma exposure, to effect, to treatment is relatively well understood for typically developing children, we know much less about this path for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

As part of ITR’s colloquium series, we are excited to host researchers Dr. Adriana Herrera and Dr. John Hoch to discuss their recent work on identifying trauma exposure and traumatic stress among children with ASD.

WHEN: Monday, February 26 | Noon to 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: ITR Offices, 1100 S Washington Avenue, Suite 102 (map)
WHO: Dr. Adriana Herrera, ITR, and Dr. John Hoch, Fraser

Free parking is available and light refreshments will be served.

Drs. Herrera and Koch looked at currently identified prevalence and risk factors for trauma
exposure in ASD in order to understand the prevalence of trauma reporting among a clinical population.

The project aimed to improve detection of trauma exposure and traumatic stress reactions in children with ASD and to better understand their risk factors and behavioral expression of trauma. The results of the research will inform treatment of trauma among children with ASD.

The research was funded by ITR’s seed grant program, which seeks to kickstart innovative ideas that have a likely chance of becoming larger, sustained research projects with external funding to improve mental health outcomes among Minnesota’s children. Learn more at

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Become trained in delivering ADAPT

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Free intensive training offered in groundbreaking, evidence-based program for military parents
April 16-19, May 14-17, 2018 | Minneapolis, MN

Thanks to a federal grant, ITR is offering a tuition-free, two-week intensive training in delivering the groundbreaking parenting program for military families, After Deployment, Adaptive Parenting Tools (ADAPT). The training is open to any organizations that work with military families and is not limited to licensed clinicians.

The program is based on 50 years of research on effective parenting, and has been tested with more than 600 military families in randomized-control trials. This training marks the first opportunity for outside organizations to adopt the program and reap the demonstrated benefits for military parents and children.

Below is more information on the program. Additional details are available at

We will be hosting two informational calls to answer further questions:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 12 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. CST
  • Monday, January 8 from noon to 1 p.m. CST.

Those calls will be hosted on WebEx at and by phone at 1-866-282-7366, code: 741 362 502.

Contact Tanner Zimmerman, CRF Project Manager at or 612-624-7722 with any questions.

Military parents face unique challenges. Deployed parents may be gone for months, living a starkly different lifestyle than their family back home. Partners shoulder the burden of raising children and managing family affairs by themselves. Children are often anxious about the safety of their deployed parent, and the new rhythms of a one-parent household.

The challenges of parenting combined with the increased stress and potential trauma of military deployment can have serious consequences for the wellbeing of parents and children.

To address this need, researchers at the University of Minnesota developed ADAPT as the first and only “evidence-based” program  — meaning it is based on rigorous scientific research — that is designed to strengthen parenting in military families with school-aged children.

The program teaches parents how to regulate their emotions, build healthy relationships with their children and partners, and set their children up for success at home and in school.

ADAPT has been evaluated in randomized control trials (the gold standard of social science research) with more than 600 families. Results show that ADAPT significantly improves parenting, and parents’ confidence. And, in turn, effective parents have children who show fewer behavior problems, less anxiety and depression, greater interpersonal strengths, better self-esteem, and more positive attitudes towards school. In addition, parents self-reported reduced depression, PTSD, and suicidal tendencies.

About the training
ADAPT features intensive up-front training and coaching in order to ensure success and longevity in the organization. Organizations must send a group of at least three participants in order to qualify.

This training will take place in two four-day sessions,  April 16-19 and May 14-17, 2018. It will be hosted at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN. After the trainings, participants will receive weekly one-on-one coaching to provide feedback and support.

A federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is allowing us to offer the training and ongoing coaching tuition-free. Participants from out of town must cover travel and lodging expenses.

Long-term sustainability is a core feature of the ADAPT approach. The Center will assist organizations in sustainably implementing the program, including a “train the trainer” opportunity in 2021.

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Colloquium: High-risk drinking among adolescents and young adults

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

We are excited to host Dr. Megan E. Patrick, Ph.D., from the University of Michigan to discuss her research on high-risk drinking among young people. Her talk, “High-risk drinking among adolescents and young adults: Motivations, expectancies, and opportunities for intervention” will highlight implications for prevention and intervention.

The colloquium will take place on Tuesday, November 21 at 9 a.m. at ITR’s offices (1100 S Washington Ave).  Refreshments will be provided. To RSVP, e-mail 

Dr. Patrick‘s work focuses on the development and consequences of adolescent and young adult risk behaviors, including alcohol use, drug use, and risky sexual behaviors. Her interests include motivation and decision-making, the prevention of health risk behaviors, statistical methods for modeling behavior and behavior change, and web-based survey methodology.

High-risk drinking among adolescents and young adults: Motivations, expectancies, and
opportunities for intervention

Alcohol is the most commonly used substance of abuse among youth. Drinking often begins during adolescence and then escalates in frequency and quantity into early young adulthood. Research has typically focused on binge drinking (i.e., having 5 or more drinks in a row), but recent studies have highlighted that drinking also often far exceeds that quantity threshold. In this talk, Dr. Patrick will present an overview of her research on “high-intensity drinking” (i.e., having 10 or more drinks in a row) among adolescents and young adults, the extent to which motivations for drinking and expectancies of drinking consequences are associated with later alcohol use and problems, and implications for prevention and intervention.

To RSVP, e-mail 

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Program for military parents is expanding

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

ITR’s first-of-its-kind parenting program for military parents has been making a splash in the Twin Cities media as it expands and continues to show positive outcomes.

After Deployment: Adaptive Parenting Tools (ADAPT), developed by ITR Director Dr. Abi Gewirtz, teaches parents how to regulate their emotions, build healthy relationships with their kids and partners, and set their children up for success at home and in school. It is rooted in more than 50 years of research on what makes parents effective, and several years of intensive research with military families.

The program is expanding to serve more families in a variety of settings: in-person groups, self-directed online, or with a coach over the internet. The program is open to military parents who have been deployed overseas since 2001 and have school-aged children. If you or someone you know is interested in being involved, click here.

The Star Tribune, WCCO-TV, KSTP-TV and the Minnesota Daily have all recently featured the program’s success in improving the lives of military parents and their children:

The skills required in leading a squad of soldiers in a combat zone are a stark contrast to those needed in dealing with a child who won’t pick up his coat off the floor. Gewirtz’s research focuses on prevention programs that promote child resilience among highly stressed families, including those affected by military deployment, war, domestic violence and homelessness.
– Star Tribune

In the US it’s estimated that close to 2 million children have a parent currently deployed. It’s the return home that finds parents looking for ways to ease back into the lives of their kids.

More than 300 MN national guard families are involved in the study. The research has shown to improve parenting confidence and skills, reduce PTSD symptoms, while boosting children’s behavior in schools.

As a result of her participation in ADAPT, Lenling said she has tools to better instruct and discipline her kids, as well as re-establish relationships with her family. “Mom doesn’t really yell anymore,” she said. “We’re just a much happier, more peaceful family.
– Minnesota Daily

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