Trauma is among the leading public-health concerns in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.

And it’s now the focus of a new training and research center at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. A group of faculty members with expertise in trauma and clinical social work recently launched the Center on Trauma and Adversity.

“Our goals are to reduce the impacts of trauma, respond to adversity and promote resilience through informed research and training,” said Megan R. Holmes, the center’s founding director and an assistant professor at the Mandel School.

The Trauma Center was created to respond to the need for trauma-focused research and the development of trained social workers who can effectively assess, intervene, and treat people and communities affected by trauma—to help them experience healing, overcome adversity, reduce suffering, and achieve recovery and resilience.

Childhood trauma is a particular problem in the United States, Holmes said. Research shows that more than two-thirds of all children will experience at least one instance—with 12.5 percent experiencing four or more.

The National Institute of Mental Health defines childhood trauma as “the experience of an event by a child that is emotionally painful or distressful,” often resulting in lasting mental and physical effects.

These negative childhood experiences include maltreatment, exposure to domestic violence and parents who use drugs and/or alcohol, among others.

Enter the Trauma Center. It is the first research and training center in Ohio to have a specialized program to train social work students and master’s-level social workers in trauma-informed and evidence-based skills necessary for effective trauma intervention. By training a skilled trauma-informed workforce, many people in the Cleveland area will experience healing, reduced suffering and enhanced supportive relationships.

“We will build on the Mandel School’s long-standing commitment to establishing research centers that elevate knowledge and engage in real-world solutions to society’s most pressing problems,” said Jennifer A. King, an assistant professor at the Mandel School and the center’s assistant director.

The Trauma Center joins other centers within the Mandel School, further expanding its depth of research expertise, leadership in innovation and opportunities for collaboration:

“The new center illustrates the depth of talent at the Mandel School to address the most pressing needs of our community,” said Mandel School Dean Grover Gilmore. “The Center on Trauma and Adversity will make contributions to both scholarship and the training of social workers in trauma informed care.”


For more information, contact Colin McEwen at colin.mcewen@case.edu

This article was originally published May 23, 2018.