11:10 AM

Trauma & Grief Training Aimed at Improving Behavioral Health Services for Houston Hispanic Youth


By Marie Jacinto 

A major shortage in the behavioral health workforce means that many area children and teenagers experiencing trauma and loss—especially in Houston’s Hispanic community—are not getting the personal attention and care they deserve. Thanks to a collaboration between the Trauma and Grief Center at the Hackett Center for Mental Health, the Lucine Center for Trauma and Grief, and UHD’s College of Public Service (CPS), that’s about to change.

On Thursday, Sept. 14, a group of roughly 60 individuals from CPS (Social Work majors, faculty, and staff) participated in a training for Trauma and Grief Component Therapy, an evidence-based intervention for youth exposed to trauma and loss. The participating students will now complete 400 hours of field practicum work in social service agencies across the community (including the Lucine Center), having an immediate impact on the mental health and well-being of children ages 11 and older who have experienced the traumatic loss of a loved one. 

This training is made possible by an American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant received by the Trauma and Grief (TAG) Center, which aims to increase access to best practice care among youth exposed to traumas and losses.

TAG Center clinicians Marisa Nowitz, Priscilla Mendez, and Oscar Widales-Benitez trained the UHD Social Work students to:

  • Explain trauma and grief processes in childhood.
  • Identify signs and symptoms of trauma and grief.
  • Teach emotion regulation and cognitive coping skills.
  • Encourage youth to set and achieve future goals.

“This training supports our Social Work students as they learn direct practice theory and skills, giving them specialized training in trauma- and grief-informed practices for children and adolescents,” said Dr. Dawn McCarty, UHD Professor and Bachelor of Social Work Program Director. “As an anchor institution for Houston and the second-largest university in the region, UHD thrives through collaborations with community partners like this Trauma and Grief Component Therapy training,” continued McCarty. “Ultimately, I’m looking forward to seeing the tremendous difference our Social Work students make to these young lives.”

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students, boasts more than 64,000 alumni, and offers 46 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities & Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences & Technology. For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHD among universities across the nation for Best Online Criminal Justice Programs (No. 27 and No. 15 for Veterans) and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. U.S. News ranked the University among Top Performers on Social Mobility and awarded UHD a No. 1 ranking as the most diverse institution of higher education in the southern region of the U.S. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution, and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.