Child and Family Therapy Services
The Department of Social Work’s Family Therapy Team supports families through a variety of workshops, consultations, treatment modalities and educational opportunities designed to support families, improve relationships and teach skills to cope with stress and trauma.
The Family Therapy Team is comprised of licensed clinical social workers who are trained in therapeutic treatments supported by strong scientific evidence. These treatments are successful in supporting children and families who have experienced a variety of stressors and traumatic events. The Family Therapy team provides these services in a variety of locations, including Children’s Mercy Adele Hall Campus, Children’s Mercy Kansas, Children’s Mercy West, and Children’s Mercy North. Additionally, family therapy services are provided within the Eating Disorders Clinic and Tourette Clinic.
The following treatment modalities are utilized by the Family Therapy Team:
Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)
PCIT is a short-term (approximately 16-20 sessions) treatment designed for children ages 2-7 who are exhibiting some of these behavior problems: aggression, non-compliance, defying adults, attention and focus related problems, and excessive temper tantrums. PCIT teaches caregivers specific behavior management techniques as they play with their child, with the focus on improving the caregiver relationship while teaching caregivers effective child management skills. PCIT is fun for both the caregiver and the child. PCIT services are provided to families in both Spanish and English.
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT)
TF-CBT is a short-term (approximately 12-16 sessions) treatment addressing the unique needs of children ages 5-18 with post-traumatic stress symptoms, depression, behavior problems and other difficulties related to traumatic life experiences. The goal of TF-CBT is to reduce the impact of trauma and teach life-long coping skills. It includes individual therapy for the child, as well as parent-child sessions.
Stabilization and Family Empowerment (SAFE)
SAFE is a short-term (approximately 1-8 sessions) treatment for parents/caregivers whose children have experienced a traumatic event. When children experience trauma, other family members are often impacted as well. Parents and caregivers can experience increased stress and feelings of being overwhelmed, and it can be difficult to call upon existing support systems. Children look to their parents for guidance, security, and answers to many questions. Many times, parents have questions themselves. Research demonstrates that providing support to parents and caregivers can improve parental coping, which in turn improves the child’s functioning and long-term outcomes.
Mental Health Screening Initiatives
The Department of Social Work recognizes the importance of early detection of mental health needs of children, teens and young adults. Across the Children’s Mercy health system, evidence-based screening tools are routinely utilized to assess adolescents for symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation. Social workers are available to complete psychosocial assessments, provide treatment recommendations, and request consultations when needed.
Acute Mental Health Screening Program
The Department of Social Work’s Acute Mental Health Screening (AMHS) Program provides acute mental health screening, requests for consultation, and case management services to children and adolescents in the Emergency Departments at both Children’s Mercy Adele Hall Campus and Children’s Mercy Kansas.
The AMHS Team is comprised of social workers who have training and experience in the provision of mental health assessment and treatment for children, adolescents, and families. All team members are clinically licensed and/or have multiple years of mental health experience. When a patient presents to the Children’s Mercy Emergency Department and there are mental health concerns, an AMHS team member will be consulted to complete an assessment and make recommendations regarding treatment and safe discharge planning. The AMHS team provides phone follow-up to all patients/caregivers of patients assessed by AMHS to ensure successful transition to community mental health resources.