Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Training Program Fosters Resilience among U.S. Military Parents, Children

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Training Program Fosters Resilience among U.S. Military Parents, Children

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- A novel, family-centered, resiliency-training program involving U.S. military families produced substantial improvements in psychological measures among both children and their parents during the first 2 years of the program involving nearly 1,700 children and their families.

"Child psychological health assessment indicates significant reduction of emotional distress and behavioral problems, and increase in prosocial behaviors" after participation in the intervention program, Dr. Patricia E. Lester said at the meeting. "Children also reported significantly increased positive coping skills."

Their parents derived benefits as well. "Parental psychological health measures and functional adjustment for active duty and nonactive duty indicate significant improvement following intervention. Family adjustment assessment indicated a greater prevalence of families with healthy functioning following interven-tion," said Dr. Lester, medical director of the child and family trauma psychiatry service at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The FOCUS (Families Overcoming Under Stress) program that was developed by Dr. Lester and her associates also has an initial assessment component, which found that both active duty and non-active duty parents had baseline psychological symptom levels that were increased, relative to community norms, and that nearly half of their children had significant baseline emotional/behavioral symptoms.

The FOCUS program adapted evidence-based interventions for military families who are affected by wartime stress, and it combines assessment and education about resiliency skills. The program includes eight sessions, starting with two sessions for parents only, then two with the children only, a third session only for parents, and finally three sessions that include the entire family.

Implementation of FOCUS began at seven U.S. military sites for the Navy and Marine Corps in March 2008. In June 2009, the program expanded to an additional seven sites within these two services, and then in September 2009, it expanded to four sites for the Army and Air Force. The program included 1,680 children aged 3-18 years from July 2008 to July 2010.

Data collected so far show that both active duty and non-active duty parents had significant reductions from baseline to postintervention follow-up in three measures that were made using the Brief Symptom Inventory (global severity index, anxiety, and depression). …

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