New Book Promotes Evidence Based Therapies, Connects Clinicians with Researchers

Brian Allen, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Penn State Hersey and Network Faculty Member, saw a need to bridge the gap between researchers and clinicians working with children who have experienced trauma.

Along with co-editor Mindy Kronenberg, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine, Dr. Allen aims to close the gap with his book, “Treating Traumatized Children: A Casebook of Evidence Based Therapies,” which was released last month. 

“We identified a need for published case studies to show clinicians how to overcome barriers,” Dr. Allen said. “The purpose of the book is to focus on improving the research-to-practice translation.”

Connecting work conducted by researchers to real-life clinical practice, according to Dr. Allen, does not always happen naturally or smoothly. To open the dialogue, he asked clinicians using evidence based therapies (EBTs) to write detailed accounts of their most challenging cases. The cases are chapters in “Treating Traumatized Children,” and chronicle cases from the beginning to the end of treatments.

The participating clinicians brainstormed with the editors to identify cases that covered a range of challenges, including sexual and physical abuse, neglect, witnessing abuse, drug use, and maternal depression.

“We wanted to stay away from the textbook cases and asked clinicians to give us a case that challenged their skills,” Dr. Allen said. “There is no perfect example of a case.”

Part 1 of the book overviews the development of EBTs and their importance to the treatment of trauma-exposed children. The final three parts discuss specific types of EBTs: cognitive behavioral, child-parent psychotherapy, and parent-child interaction therapy.

Drs. Allen and Kronenberg make the researcher-to-practitioner link by introducing expert commentary that reviews the cases at the end of each part. The reviews identify strengths and areas for improvement in the treatment, as well as other suggestions and observations.

Dr. Allen said, “Both clinicians and researchers saw this book as a worthy cause. It was great to see them come together to bridge the gap.”

In one review of the volume, Sandra Azar, Professor of Psychology at Penn State, noted that the book is: “an excellent overview of the major empirically based approaches for trauma work with children. I recommend this book highly for graduate courses and staff training at agencies. It is useful for introducing the approaches as a prelude to gaining more focused accredited training and/or as follow-up for case discussions."

Dr. Allen joined Penn State’s Network on Child Protection and Well-Being in June as the sixth of at least 12 new co-funded faculty hires. In addition to his work with the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children, based at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and its Harrisburg-based James M. and Margaret V. Stine Foundation TLC (Transforming the Lives of Children) Clinic, which is expected to open in October, Allen specializes in research and treatment of child abuse and trauma.