Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Grants Available: 2019 Collaborative Seed Grant Program

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Applications due November 2, 2018

The University of Minnesota Institute for Translational Research in Children’s Mental Health (ITR) announces the 2019 Collaborative Seed Grant Program. ITR collaborative seed grants are designed to support small research projects addressing important issues in children’s mental health that align with ITR’s mission, are identified by communities in Minnesota, and have a high likelihood of leading to external funding.

The mission of the Institute for Translational Research in Children’s Mental Health (ITR) is to advance quality research, evidence-based training, and information dissemination focused on children’s mental health and development ages 0 to 18.  ITR provides basic scientific and translational prevention and intervention research leading to the implementation or enhancement of evidence-based programs and practices.

Two to three small grants will be awarded to support university-community collaborative participation in small research projects addressing important issues in children’s mental health (maximum award $20,000).

Proposed projects must be completed within one year. Projects should be designed to position the research team to apply for external funding to continue their program of research.

Letters of Interest are due November 2, 2018, describing the child and/or family issues you propose to focus on and your capacity to partner with a community entity in research.


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Announcing ITR’s fall symposium on innovations in implementation science

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

Innovations in Implementation Science: Bridging the Science to Practice Gap across Community Systems of Care

October 4 & 5, 2018 | Minneapolis, MN

Over the past several decades, there have been enormous breakthroughs in our understanding of how to improve children’s mental health. However, many of these interventions—which research teams can spend entire careers and millions of dollars developing—make it into the hands of practitioners at alarmingly low rates.

The field of “implementation science” has emerged in response to this long-standing issue.  ITR’s fall symposium will highlight cutting edge work in this field.

Attendees will leave the the day-and-a-half symposium with a better understanding of how to bring the fruits of research into real-world practice. The event will be useful for researchers, professionals, and practitioners alike.

WHEN: October 4-5, 2018
WHERE: Cowles Auditorium at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Researchers, practitioners, professionals, students
HOW MUCH: $50 ($25 for students)

Speakers and topics: 

Cara C. Lewis, PhD (keynote) (bio) | From Classification to Causality: Optimizing the Impact of Implementation Strategies with Theory and Measurement

Rinad S. Beidas, PhD (bio) | Applying methods from participatory approaches and behavioral economics to implementation research

C. Hendricks Brown, PhD (bio) |  TBA

Geoffrey M. Curran, PhD (bio) | Incorporating Implementation Research into Clinical Effectiveness Trials: Toward using Hybrid Effectiveness-Implementation Designs

Mark G. Ehrart, PhD (bio) | Leading for implementation: An organizational perspective on implementation effectiveness

Christian Helfrich, PhD (bio) | Developing strategies to de-implement ineffective & harmful clinical practices: Using unlearning & substitution approaches

Kimberly E. Hoagwood, PhD (bio) | The next frontier in children’s mental health research: From programs to policies, from scaling to system change, from implementation to collective efficacy

Aaron R. Lyon, PhD (bio) | How implementable is that evidence-based practice? Designing and supporting streamlined and contextually-appropriate innovations in behavioral health

Byron J. Powell, PhD (bio) | Optimizing strategies to improve the implementation of children’s mental health services: Priorities for research and practice

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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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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Podcast interview: Dr. Marion Forgatch of PMTO

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Dr. Marion Forgatch is a key developer of Parent Management Training-Oregon Model (PMTO), a landmark parent-focused intervention based on more than 50 years of research.

In this discussion on the Center for Resilient Families podcast, Dr. Forgatch explains the basics of PMTO and why an organization may be interested in adopting it.

You can listen below, or listen on your phone via iTunes or Stitcher. A transcript of the interview is below.

The Center for Resilient Families’s mission is to spread the use of parent-focused interventions that have been proven to be effective. The Center trained a group of clinicians in PMTO this fall and is offering tuition-free training in several other proven interventions over the next four years. To learn more or apply, visit

The Center is funded by a grant from from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and is housed within the Institute for Translational Research in Children’s Mental Health at the University of Minnesota.


What is PMTO and how did it come to be?

It’s a program originally developed by Gerald Patterson, who by the way is a Minnesotan, who worked originally from a psycho-dynamic perspective in a residential clinic for children. They could help the children sometimes when they were in the clinic, but when they sent them home, they bounced back. And he wanted to know: what happens in families? It’s not just in the child. It must be something going on in the family.

So, he began going into the families to observe what happens between parents and children. From that, he started to understand that parents are really important, and that what clinicians need to know is help parents be very effective in raising their children.

What are some examples of the things the program teaches parents to do?

It teaches parents to be good teachers. In fact, parents are their children’s best teachers. You can teach through encouragement: catching your child doing the right thing, and noticing it, and encouraging them to do more. Or you can teach through correction: that is, catch them doing it wrong and criticize them, correct them and tell them, “Don’t do that.” But one of the problems with that is that kids don’t necessarily know what to do when you tell them not to do something. So, we teach parents to do something like give a clear direction their kids, instead of, “Pick up your shoes! Don’t you know they’re not supposed to be there?” Which, anybody who’s a parent has done something like that.

Instead, when you see the shoes on the floor and they should be in the closet or by the side of the door, to take the time to calm yourself down and say, “What do I want?” I want the shoes picked up and put beside the door. So how can I do that? I’m going to get up, I’m going to walk over to my child, I’m going to put my hand on his shoulder and look in his eyes and smile. I’m going to say, “Sammy, pick up your shoes and put them by the door please.” And then I’m going to do what we call “stand and hold.” I’m going to hang out there for 10 seconds with a pleasant expression on my face, simply waiting.

PMTO is an intervention that is adopted organization-wide, usually bigger organizations like counties, states or provinces. What generally motivates an organization to approach you about adopting PMTO?

They have a caseload of families with children who may be out of control, hyperactive, aggressive, noncompliant, sad. What they’re using isn’t working. Families are disappointed, clinicians are leaving their jobs because they don’t have job satisfaction because what they’re doing doesn’t work. So, they’re organizations that want to help families and have a lot of families that need help.

Your team is really focused on sustainable implementation for the long-term. What things go into that?

We do what is called “full transfer.” That is, we train a group of practitioners. When agencies select practitioners for this training, they want to select people who are going to be with the organization for some time, who have some leadership skills, who are clinically gifted. This is because, from the group that we train, we help the agencies select leaders to now train future generations.

So for example, in Norway about 20 years ago, we trained the first generation. They were clinicians from all over the nation. We trained 30 to certification. Those 30, in the years since, have trained 1,300 active clinicians and they’re serving 20,000 families. So, we trained 30 and then we helped the agency or organization have what we call a “governance authority” to oversee the training, coaching and fidelity monitoring of the team. And so you pay us at first, but then you pay your own staff and they’re the ones that carry the program forward.

What kind of results do these organizations see?

We’ve done a number of clinical trials. We randomly assign people to PMTO or something else – treatment as usual. What we find is — by parent report, teacher report and direct observation — improvement in parenting practices, and that leads to improvement in child outcomes. Things like police arrests, teacher ratings of externalizing behavior, children’s ratings of their own depression and association with deviant peers. Several positive outcomes in study after study.

Say I am someone in an organization and I’m interested in adopting PMTO for my organization. What are my first steps in order to proceed?

You would contact us and we would tell you about what it would take. We have a readiness questionnaire that we can talk you through or give you to fill out that says what we expect of you in order for you to be able to do this. Then, if we both agree that this is something we both want to move forward with, you would want to have meetings with stakeholders. The kind of stakeholders you would have would be agency leaders, practitioners, and parents. One of the things that parents say is that they used to sit in the waiting room while the kid went in to see the therapist and then they would go home, and they didn’t know what happened and didn’t change anything they did. Now [with PMTO] the parents are going into the room and it’s not that we’re blaming the parents, we’re teaching the parents to be really effective teachers. They love going in and learning how they can be more effective in raising their kids.

Learn more about PMTO here.

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Watch: Videos from Ambit Network/CRF conference

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

We had an amazing morning at our 2017 fall conference on Sept. 15. The conference focused on how working with parents can improve mental health outcomes for children exposed to traumatic stress.

You can watch the presentations below. To request a copy of the slides, e-mail us.

To learn about future conferences and training opportunities, subscribe to our e-newsletter.

Dr. Marion Forgatch
Fifty Years of PMTO: From Cradle to Community

Dr. BraVada Garrett-Akinsanya
Pre-Meditated Parenting & Fighting the Battle to Save Our Children’s Lives

Dr. Abigail Gewirtz
What do we know about supporting parenting in families affected by stressful and traumatic events?

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