SALT LAKE CITY – The heartbreaking details about Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky and the father of the 5 Browns here in Utah have made more people aware about the devastating consequences of child sexual abuse. Now Utah children who have been abused or exposed to violence will soon have more mental health treatment options, thanks to a generous grant from the Verizon Foundation.
A series of workshops, sponsored by the State Friends of the Children’s Justice Centers and coordinated through the Utah Children’s Justice Center Program, will train providers on treatment models proven to reduce trauma and lower the risk of future abuse. Therapists from Davis, Weber, Utah, Box Elder, Cache and Uintah Counties began their first workshop on Aug. 10 at the Davis Children’s Justice Center in Farmington.
Additional workshops will be held in Cedar City in September and Salt Lake City in November.
“Unfortunately, specialized mental health services are limited in many areas of Utah, and without appropriate treatment, children can suffer lifelong emotional and physical consequences,” said Tracey Tabet, CJC Program Manager. “This program will help communities meet their mental health needs.”
The $20,000 grant allows trainers from Primary Children’s Medical Center for Safe and Healthy Families, the program’s medical partner, to conduct two-day workshops for 60 therapists throughout the state. The trainers will follow up with monthly phone consultations with therapists over the next year. “This was an ideal collaboration,” Friends Board Member Nena Slighting said. “The State Friends Board and the Verizon Foundation are both committed to making sure that every community – big and small – has access to quality care for children.”
The workshops teach “evidence-based treatment” models, which have been proven to reduce traumatic stress and re-victimization. Research has also found that family members can be the key to a child’s recovery, so therapists are encouraged to involve non-offending care givers in the treatment.
“Many myths around therapy linger, including the assumption that any type of therapy works, and that therapy must be long term,” said Laura Seklemian, CJC Training and Development Coordinator. “These models are very individualized, and often involve only 12 to 16 weeks of therapy.”
This is the CJC program’s first training initiative aimed specifically at mental health providers.
The Verizon Foundation uses its resources and partnerships to address critical social issues, including access to health care services in underserved and rural communities. Every year, Utah’s CJCs provide a friendly atmosphere for more than 5,000 children while they are being interviewed regarding allegations of abuse. In addition to coordinating forensic interviews and medical exams with partner agencies, CJCs refer families to specialized mental health resources.
Even though the investigation and prosecution of a child abuse case can take months or even years, therapy can begin immediately. Investigators, prosecutors, medical providers and other child abuse professionals are also trained through the Utah CJC program and its 20 CJC and CJC-satellite locations.
The Utah Legislature established the Utah CJC program to provide a multidisciplinary response to child abuse. The Attorney General’s Office administers the program and, CJC services are delivered locally through contracts with counties. The State Friends Board is a private, nonprofit dedicated to raising funds to support training, program needs and raise awareness of CJC services. More information about the CJC can be found on the Attorney General’s website.