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 approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.