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Trauma Skills Program in a Youth Detention Facility
AuthorRadenhausen, Megan Elise
AdvisorDuckworth, Melanie P
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Childhood trauma exposure and trauma-related symptoms are significant risk factors for involvement with the juvenile justice system. Limited research has assessed the effectiveness of trauma interventions for juveniles in secure facilities. The current study is a program evaluation of a pilot program at a youth detention facility (YDF) in Sacramento, California that ran from 2017 to 2020. The Trauma Skills Program consisted of ten weekly group sessions, each 90-minutes in length, held in a classroom at the YDF. The Trauma Skills Program was designed to target trauma-related symptoms by providing psychoeducation, validation, and support, as well as improving coping skills for trauma-related responses, and increasing willingness to participate in trauma-related therapeutic services. Juveniles reported significantly more knowledge about trauma, perceived support at YDF, use of healthy coping skills, and willingness to engage in trauma therapy at post-program than pre-program. Trauma-related symptoms (i.e., negative alterations in cognitions and mood, re-experiencing, avoidance, and hyperarousal symptoms) did not decrease from pre-program to post-program. Qualitative data about the Trauma Skills Program was mostly positive and indicated a desire to use the skills learned outside of YDF. Potential explanations for the lack of change in trauma-related symptoms from pre- to post-program could be a result of juveniles' increased knowledge and awareness of trauma-related symptoms, inconsistent attendance, or lack of effectiveness of the implemented intervention.