Category Archives: military families

Military Families

What Leads to Better Outcomes for Children who Witness Family Violence?

By Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD

Violence directed at a spouse or partner does not only affect the involved partners, but can also impact children that are at home and witness violence. Children witnessing violence are at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other emotional or behavioral problems. We’ve highlighted prevalence and effects of children’s exposure to violence in a previous blog. Today, we will focus on protective factors, or attributes that reduce the risk of a negative outcome, that can play an important role in a child’s development and adaptation under adverse conditions.

D. Sharon Pruitt, Flickr, 2006

 

Schultz and colleagues [1] studied three potentially protective factors for children exposed to family violence and at risk of developing PTSD or behavioral problems: Self-control; Assertion; and Parent stress. Data were taken from the existing Safe Start Promising Approaches (SSPA) program evaluation dataset, which tracked children from 15 sites over time based on the type of intervention they received. The participants included in this study (children and their parents from a total of 350 families) were those who did not receive any intervention. Target children ranged in age from 1-12, so there were multiple types of measures used, including the Social Skills Rating System, Brief Infant-Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment, Parenting Stress Index – Short Form, Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children, and Behavior Problem Index, supplemented with 4 questions from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, and information regarding level of violence exposure. Protective factors and outcome measures were collected at the study baseline and in a 6 months follow-up interview.

Results suggest that children who have better self-control, or have parents who reported less stress, showed fewer PTSD symptoms and fewer behavioral problems. Assertion (such as high self-confidence) did not seem to serve in a protective role related to the development of PTSD symptoms or behavioral problems.

Implications

When working with a child who has been exposed to family violence, interventions that focus on reducing parental stress and increasing the child’s self-control may result in more positive outcomes, both for the child and the family.

Reference

[1] Schultz, D., Jaycox, L. H., Hickman, L. J., Setodji, C., Kofner, A., Harris, R., & Barnes, D. (2013). The relationship between protective factors and outcomes for children exposed to violence. Violence and Victims, 28(4), 697-714. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1891/0886-6708.VV-D-12-00005

This post was written by Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD, members of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, You Tube, and on LinkedIn.

Year-End Tax Planning Strategies

By Molly C. Herndon

Social Media Specialist 

The temptation to put off organizing financial records and updating accounts until the new year may be overwhelming this time of year. Family get-togethers and the holidays stretch our time and our finances. However, planning now can mean a better outcome when filing your taxes next Spring.

Numbers and Finance  by reynermedia. Licensed Creative Commons CC BY 2.0.
Numbers and Finance by reynermedia. Licensed Creative Commons CC BY 2.0.

In our December 9 webinar, Year-End Tax Planning Strategies, Dr. Barbara O’Neill will discuss ways to plan ahead to increase deductions and be better prepared for tax laws that may impact your wallet. This 90-minute webinar begins at 11 a.m. ET and is worth 1.5 CEUs for AFC-credentialed participants.

The Personal Finance team has presented on the topic of taxes twice before. Earlier this year, Dr. Michael Gutter presented Tax Planning Updates for Members of the Military . This webinar focused on tax laws that affect military members, as well as unique issues related to combat pay and basic tax calculation. Watch the recording here:

In 2012, we presented Income Tax Filing Issues for Members of the Armed Forces. This 90-minute webinar teased apart the dense information that pertains to military members when filing returns. Watch the recording of this session here:

To join the upcoming December 9 session and for more information, click here.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on November 25, 2014.

Family Dev. Webinar: Using Protective Factors to Inform Work with Child Maltreatment

Wondering what’s next in our MFLN 2014 Webinar series? Here are the details!

Date: Thursday, December 11, 2014

Time: 11am-1pm Eastern

Location: https://learn.extension.org/events/1797#.VG4X977yPKA

Cover photo image: Creative Commons Licensing [Flickr, CT Senate Democrat, May 2nd 2012]

Representatives from FRIENDS National Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (Casandra Firman, M.S. & Alicia Luckie. M.S.) will be presenting on best practices for clinicians and other service providers working in the child abuse prevention community. The presenters will highlight not only risk factors associated with child maltreatment but also the 6 protective factors. The presentation will explore how service professionals can incorporate the 6 protective factors into their work to reduce likelihood of abuse or neglect.

We offer 2.0 National Association of Social Worker CE credits for each of our webinars, click here to learn more. For more information on future presentations in the 2014 Family Development webinar series, please visit our professional development website or connect with us via social media for announcements: (Facebook & Twitter)

Resource Discovery: Understanding the Military Experience

Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD

PBS (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) has some excellent resources for mental health professionals who want to better understand the military experience and inform their practice. On the web page entitled, “Stories of Service” multiple links are provided that give information about the challenges and opportunities that military members may experience when returning to a civilian environment.

Crafting useful art objects can give military members an opportunity to express themselves and “tell their story.” In the PBS’s series “Craft in America” there is an episode entitled “Service” in which veterans tell their stories.

PBS the cup

“My wife calls my work War Awareness Art. I’m not so concerned if you’re for or against a specific war, but that you’re ignorant of what’s happening is not OK with me.” — artist Ehren Tool (PBS, Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/veterans/stories-of-service/stream-tv/a-to-z/craft-in-america-service/

PBS Resources:
Veterans telling their stories in craft making.
Other PBS resources – Stories of Service.

 

This post was written by Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD, members of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, You Tube, and on LinkedIn.

The National Guard and Reserves: Are their Needs Different from Active Duty?

Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD  

Unlike active duty members of the military, who tend to be organized by base, the National Guard and Reserve members are widely dispersed across the U.S., away from their assigned military base, and may live in a community that may not be familiar with military culture and the challenges they face. In a recent article published in Clinical Child & Family Psychological Review, authors Murphy and Fairbank (2013) review the challenges that are specific to members of the National Guard and Reserves, and emerging evidence-based programs that are becoming available to better serve military families living in communities located away from military bases. Challenges important to families living away from a military community include a wide range of environmental and individual barriers:

Table
Table adapted from Murphy and Fairbank (2013)

 

 

 

To address the need for support and improve services for community dwelling military families, a number of programs or interventions have been developed. These programs have either been developed specifically to address the needs of military families or have been adapted from work for civilian families. Three potential solutions listed here are highlighted here:

Co-locating health and mental health services

By providing mental health services within a health care setting, stigma for seeking treatment is reduced. Furthermore, it allows for health care and mental health care to be better coordinated, leading to better patient care. This is beneficial not only for military members and their families, but also for the community at large.

Families Over Coming Under Stress (FOCUS) Resiliency Training (Beardslee, 2013)

Today, FOCUS is better designed to serve families that have limited access to clinicians familiar with military families. Two applications, Self-Administered Family Check-in and FOCUS World, are web-based, and available to community dwelling military members (and others). The self-administered check-in offers standardized psychological health and family resilience screening with real-time feedback. FOCUS World is an interactive family narrative. The FOCUS World application allows the user to select a character, i.e. Mom, Dad, provides for individual family members to log significant family events, thoughts and feelings around those events, and even pictures that are displayed on a high-tech timeline. To play in FOCUS World, you can create an account as a clinician.

Month of the Military Family

The Military Child Education Coalition

The Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) (2012) has a number of resources that are available to military families through the Internet. Resources provided include: Child advocacy training materials, peer-to-peer support for children, news, and other education related material.

Considerations when working with National Guard and Reserve families

  • Do you ask your clients “have you, or anyone in your family ever served in the military?” This not only gathers critical information about the client, but also informs the client that you are culturally sensitive and that your practice is military informed.
  • If this is the case for you, acknowledge to yourself and your client that your knowledge and understanding of the military and military culture is limited.
  • If the client has recently been deployed, don’t assume that a recent deployment is the reason for the current help-seeking situation. While deployment is often a stressor, it may or may not play a role in the problem to be addressed.

The National Guard and Reserves play a critical role in today’s U. S. military. Recent developments in care for military members and their families located away from bases offer an opportunity for clinicians to utilize new evidence-based strategies and Internet-based technology for the best care of this important element of the military.

References:

Murphy, R. A., & Fairbank, J. A. (2013). Implementation and dissemination of military informed and evidence-based interventions for community dwelling military families. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 16, 348-364. doi: 10.1007/s10567-013-0149-8

Beardslee, W. R., Klosinski, L. E., Saltzman, W., Mogil, C. Pangelinan, S., McKnight, C. P. & Lester, P. (2013). Dissemination of family-centered prevention for military and veteran families: Adaptations and adoption within community and military systems of care. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 16, 394-409. doi: 10.1007/s10567-013-0154-y

This post was written by Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD, members of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, You Tube, and on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

Childhood Sexual Abuse: Do Our Thoughts Impact Outcome?

Jay Morse and Heidi Radunovich, PhD

Victims of childhood sexual abuse often present a wide array of symptoms following childhood sexual abuse (CSA), and how these symptoms manifest varies from child to child. Yancey, Naufel, and Hansen (2013) wanted to know what factors impacted clinical presentation following childhood sexual abuse (CSA).

Kelly Piet Photography, 2012, flickr-2Previous research suggested that factors unique to the individual, factors associated with the family, and factors related to the specifics of the abuse itself all seem to contribute to outcome. In previous research by the authors, the following types of presentation among CSA victims were noted:

  1. Highly distressed – Both parent and child report high levels of distress and behavior problems.
  2. Problem behaviors – Child does not report distress, but parent reports problem behaviors.
  3. Subclinical – Both parent and child report no clinical distress or behavioral problems.
  4. Self-distress – Child reports high levels of distress, but parental report is in the normal range.

Methodology

Participants were 101 children ages 7-18 who were in treatment for CSA through Project SAFE, a 12 week cognitive-behavioral group treatment program for victims of CSA.   Archival data from the children and their non-offending parent or caregiver was used, and included the Children’s Impact of Traumatic Events – Revised (CITES-R – child completed), demographic questionnaire (parent completed), child history form (parent completed, Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ – parent completed), and Symptoms Checklist -90-Revised (SCL-90-R – parent completed).

Results

One of the most important findings in this study is that attributional style, or how the children thought about the abuse, was correlated with clinical presentation of symptoms. Individuals in the highly distressed cluster had more negative attributions of the abuse than participants in the subclinical cluster. Mental health and coping of the parent were also associated with clinical presentation, such that parents of children and adolescents in the highly distressed group had higher reported symptoms over parents in the subclinical group. However, this study did not look at how this finding might occur – does parental coping impact child coping in this case, or might parents have less to cope with if their child is doing better? More severe abuse was associated with being in the high distress group, but how long the abuse lasted was not a significant predictor. It is notable that there were significantly fewer boys available for this study (consistent with lower reported levels of CSA among boys), but those who were in the study were more likely to be in the problem behavior group.

Implications

In this study, two key implications for treatment intervention emerge:

  1. How children and adolescents think about the abuse, and the causes behind it, can determine how they are functioning. Targeting negative attributions can be an important part of the therapeutic process.
  2. Parents or caregivers also need to be considered in developing a treatment plan. Considerations such as the mental health of the parent can play an important role in the treatment and recovery of the child or adolescent.

 

Reference:

Yancey, C. T., Naufel, K. Z., & Hansen, D. J. (2013). The relationship of personal, family, and abuse-specific factors to children’s clinical presentation following childhood sexual abuse. Journal of Family Violence, 28(1), 31-42. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10896-012-9485-6

 

This post was written by Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD, members of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, You Tube, and on LinkedIn.

What Encourages Disclosure of Childhood Sexual Abuse?

Jay Morse and Heidi Radunovich, PhD

Victims of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) often struggle with whether or not to tell anyone about their sexual abuse, and sometimes delay disclosure for years, if they disclose at all. But what can be done to increase the likelihood of disclosing CSA? In a recent qualitative study in Ireland, McElvaney, Greene, and Hogan (2014) examined informal disclosure of CSA, considering events leading up to, during, and following disclosure.

Kelly Piet Photography, 2012, flickr

The researchers interviewed 22 children and adolescents, and 14 of their parents. Responses to interview questions were divided into three categories: 1) General – related to all cases; 2) Typical – more than one-half the cases included the response; and 3) Variant – only two or three cases reported.

Five crucial areas related to disclosure were identified:

1)      Being believed. Fear of not being believed was the reason most often cited for not disclosing the abuse.

2)      Being asked. Respondents often stated that their disclosure was related to “being asked” whether directly, or indirectly. Parents or concerned observers, such as a teacher, often noted a change in behavior and asked if anything were wrong, which encouraged disclosure. In two cases, family members observed sexualized behaviors that were unusual for the victim of the abuse.

3)      Shame and self-blame. Almost one-half of the participants reported feeling ashamed or blaming themselves as the reason for not disclosing. Children/adolescents reasoned that it was too embarrassing to tell a parent of the incident. Self-blame also played a role in not disclosing the abuse. In some cases, this self-blame extended beyond the event itself and focused on the consequences of talking about the event, hiding the abuse for fear of what might follow.

4)      Fears and Concerns for Self and Others. Fear of the consequences of disclosing their abuse varied among participants, even though most of the fears were unfounded. Included in the responses were fears of the abuser hurting them again, as well as the impact on the family, and/or fear of going through the judicial process.

5)      Peer Influence. In this study, peer influence encouraged the young person to disclose to an adult, with 15 of the 22 young people interviewed reporting that they had first disclosed their abuse to a friend or relative before disclosing to a parent.

Clinicians who work with children and adolescents should be aware of the following in their practice:

  • Shame and self-blame are issues for children and adolescents who consider disclosing their abuse. Practitioners can diminish the possible negative messages received by young people from people around them by encouraging an atmosphere of trust.
  • Peers play an important role in disclosure, providing support to the victim and encouraging disclosure. Professionals working with victims of abuse can ask about available peer support.
  • Some of the participants noted that “they had never been asked.” Often, just asking will elicit disclosure of CSA.

Reference:

McElvaney, R.,  Greene, S. & Hogan, D. (2014). To tell or not to tell? Factors influencing young people’s informal disclosures of child sexual abuse. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 29(5), 928-947. doi: 10.1177/0886260513506281

This post was written by Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD, members of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, You Tube, and on LinkedIn.

November Caregiving Webinar: Suicide Risk Assessment & Prevention

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Join the Military Caregiving Concentration team as they host their FREE monthly professional development webinar on the topic of ‘Suicide Risk Assessment and Prevention.’

Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m. Eastern
Event Location: https://learn.extension.org/events/1712
*No registration is required.

Edgar Villarreal, Ph.D., a Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Clinical Psychologist from the Department of Veterans Affairs, will provide a step-by-step approach to assessing, mitigating and documenting suicide risk when working with wounded service members and their families. The 60-minute presentation will offer techniques to better prepare service providers on how to manage challenges relating to suicides in the military.

CEU Credit Available!

The Military Families Learning Network will be providing 1.0 National Association of Social Workers (NASW) continuing education credit to credentialed participants. Certificates of Completion will also be available for training hours as well. For more information on CEU credits go to: NASW Continuing Education Instructions.

Interested in Joining the Webinar?

*No registration is required; simply go to Suicide Risk Assessment and Prevention  the day of the event to join. The webinar is hosted by the Department of Defense so you must install security certificates if you are not located on a military installation. Instructions for certificate installation can be found by clicking on DCO Adobe Certificate Installation. You can connect to the Adobe webinar using iPhone, iPad, and Droid apps. Search for DCO Connect in the respective stores.

For those who cannot connect to the Adobe site, an alternative viewing of this presentation will be running on Ustream.


This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on November 6, 2014.

 

Suicide Risk: Relationship to Combat Exposure

Jay Morse& Heidi Radunovich, PhD

Suicide remains an important topic for clinicians serving the active duty military due to the high rates of suicide among active duty members, National Guard and Reserve members and military veterans. Research led by Dr. Craig Bryan, Executive Director of the University of Utah National Center for Veteran Studies, provides a rigorous look at suicide risk and its relationship to combat exposure.

Female Food Specialist Assumes Dual Role

Combat exposure and suicide risk in two samples of military personnel

The objective of the study by Bryan, Hernandez, Allison, and Clemans (2013) [1] was to identify the relationship between exposure to combat and suicide risk. Structural equation modeling was used to analyze two samples of military personnel: active duty military who were participating in a routine neurocognitive screening, and deployed military personnel participating in a routine evaluation or treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI).

In this study:

(1) Combat exposure was directly related to PTSD (and to fearlessness of death) but did not show a direct or indirect effect on suicide risk.

(2) Symptoms of PTSD were shown to be strongly associated with depression, which in turn was directly related to suicide risk in the non-clinical sample (those who were participating in the routine screening), and indirectly related to suicide risk in the clinical sample (those who had TBI) where,

(3) Depression was directly related to a low sense of belonging or perceived burdensomeness, which in turn was related to suicide risk in the clinical sample (those who had TBI).

What does this mean to clinicians?

Suicide risk may not be as closely related to combat exposure as previously thought. Other factors should be considered when evaluating suicide risk, including symptoms of PTSD and symptoms of depression (particularly a lack of a sense of belonging and a feeling of being burdensome).

For more information on the National Center for Veterans Studies projects, link to the University of Utah’s National Center for Veterans Studies.

Resources:

[1] Bryan, C. J., Hernandez, A. M., Allison, S., & Clemans, T. (2013). Combat exposure and suicide risk in two samples of military personnel. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(1), 64-77. doi:10.1002/JCLP.21932

This post was written by Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD, members of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, You Tube, and on LinkedIn.

 

2014: A Financial Review

By Molly C. Herndon
Social Media Specialist 

What hot button topics in personal finance really got you going this year? Are you concerned about the Affordable Care Act? Data hacking? Stock market highs and lows? These topics and more will be covered in our November 25 webinar with Dr. Barbara O’Neill.

wsj.com
Image from wsj.com

We invite personal finance managers and educators to join this 90-minute webinar to learn more and share their own insights on the hot finance issues of 2014 at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 25. This 90-minute webinar is worth 1.5 CEUs  for AFC-credentialed participants.

This “Financial Year in Review” webinar will cover updates on financial topics that were newsworthy this year, as well as preview some of the issues that will be on trend in 2015, including:

  • Changes in tax laws
  • Governmental relation changes
  • Financial products and services

This online learning opportunity will be presented on the Department of Defense DCO system and requires security certificate installation. Alternatively, DCO apps are available for many devices and the session will also stream on Ustream. For more information on how to join, click here.

For resources related to this webinar and more information about our speaker, Dr. Barbara O’Neill, visit the event’s Learn page.

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on November 3, 2014.