Kids Club and Mom’s Empowerment
Type of Approach:
Provider Education Level:
Type of services:
Parent group training/therapy (mothers only) with behavior management plus child group training/therapy with development of social skills
Type of service providers:
mental health providers; graduate students in clinical psychology and social work paired with community-based therapists for the evaluation study
mental health community agencies, supportive housing/shelters
Length of program/number sessions:
1-hour separate child and mother small group sessions (5-7 mothers or children) for 10 weeks
Type(s) of trauma addressed:
Children exposed to domestic violence; risk of child abuse also noted and measured
The children’s groups are phase-based beginning with strategies to enhance children’s sense of safety, developing the therapeutic alliance, and creating a common vocabulary of emotions for making sense of violence experiences. Later sessions address responsibility for violence, managing emotions, conflict and resolution skills, and family relationships.
The parenting program is designed to support and empower mothers to discuss the impact of violence on their children’s development, to build parenting competence, to provide a safe place for discussing parenting fears and worries, and to build social connections within a supportive group setting.
Group therapists were graduate students in clinical psychology and social work who were paired with community providers.
This study confirms what other researchers have shown regarding greater success in improving attitudes and reducing aggression when both the nonoffending parent and child are treated. The group treatment approach can be a more affordable option.
Ethnic Racial Group:
Age range of children:
5 to 13 years old
Parent/adult caregiver included in intervention:
Ethnic/racial and other groups served:
Evaluation study population was 35% African American or biracial and 8% other
Specific cultural adaptations:
No specific adaptations are noted; the program has been used with Latino/Hispanic and African American mothers and children
Languages available other than English:
Meta-analyses have shown that protocols using a multicomponent component with parents and children provide the greatest effects; this intervention is most effective when the parent and child interventions are offered simultaneously.
- Domestic violence (physical and emotional) during past year
- Physical child abuse
- Child adjustment problems
- Children’s attitudes and beliefs about family violence
A controlled trial was conducted with sequential assignment to three conditions: child-only intervention (CO), child-plus-mother intervention (CM) and a wait-list comparison (no treatment). The study population consisted of 181 children and their mothers. There were two children’s groups determined by age (6-8 years and 9-12 years) and gender mixed. Seventeen percent of mothers were currently living with their abusive partner and 68% had some contact with the abusive partner but were not living together at the beginning of the study. Woman had been in an abusive relationship for an average of 10 years.
The CM condition (child-plus-mother) was most effective in reducing the percentage of children in the clinical range from baseline to post-treatment and at 8-month follow-up compared to children in the child- only intervention (CO):
- Children in the CM condition showed greater levels of improvement in violence-related attitudes and externalizing behavior problems (e.g. aggression, defiance) from baseline to posttreatment compared to children in the child-only intervention
- Children in the CM condition showed a 77% reduction for internalizing behaviors and a 79% reduction for externalizing behaviors from baseline to 8-month follow-up
- Children’s changes in attitudes about violence were maintained for the CM condition at 8-month follow-up while there was a significant deterioration in attitudes among children in the CO condition
Graham-Bermann SA, Banyard V, Lynch S, DeVoe ER. Community-based intervention for children exposed to intimate partner violence: An efficacy trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2007, 75(2):199-209.
Additional analyses of the data for the above-referenced evaluation study indicated that children’s disclosures of exposure to domestic violence within the therapeutic group were associated with gains in those children’s internalizing behavioral adjustment problems and an improvement in attitudes and beliefs about the acceptability of violence. Fifty-two percent of children spontaneously disclosed during therapy.
Graham-Bermann SA, Howell KH, Lilly M, DeVoe E. Mediators and moderators of change in adjustment following intervention for children exposed to intimate partner violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2010, June 28 (epub ahead of print).
Another publication by Graham-Bermann et al. (2010) examined the impact of other factors (mediators and moderators) that influenced participation in the intervention and changes in children’s adjustment. A child’s age and ethnicity did not predict change in a child’s adjustment; the number of sessions attended by the mother and child did predict better child total adjustment. Children who were exposed to a greater proportion of violence in their lifetime participated in more sessions and had greater reduction in internalizing problems. Reductions in mothers’posttraumatic stress symptoms was associated with reductions in children’s internationalizing problems.
Graham-Bermann SA, Kulnarni MR, Kanukollu S. Is disclosure therapeutic for children following exposure to traumatic violence? Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2010, May 6 (epub ahead of print).
Graham-Bermann SA & Hughes HM. Intervention for children exposed to interpersonal violence (IPV): assessment of needs and research priorities. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review. 2003;6(3):189-204.
The Swedish government has adapted Kids Club and Mom’s Empowerment for use throughout Sweden. The program is also replicated in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
Rated/Reviewed by Evidence Based Registries:
Sandra Graham-Bermann, PhD; email@example.com
Program training manual
face-to-face training and a two-day training are recommended
Fees vary depending on the type and extent of training needed
- Dr. Sandra A. Graham-Bermann
- University of Michigan, 530 Church St.
- Ann Arbor, MI 48109