Special Issue

The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research

, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 141-154

First online:

Building resilience in children of mothers who have Co-occurring Disorders and histories of Violence

Intervention model and implementation issues
  • Norma FinkelsteinAffiliated withInstitute for Health and Recovery Email author 
  • , Elke RechbergerAffiliated withSystems Change Center, PROTOTYPES
  • , Lisa A. RussellAffiliated withETR Associates
  • , Nancy R. VanDeMarkAffiliated withArapahoe House, Inc
  • , Chanson D. NoetherAffiliated withAnalysis Division, Policy Research Associates
  • , Maura O'KeefeAffiliated withthe School of Social Work at the University of Southern California
  • , Karen GouldAffiliated withWELL Child Project at Institute for Health and Recovery
  • , Susan MockusAffiliated withTAMAR Program, Baltimore
  • , Melissa V. RaelAffiliated withSAMHSA/Center for Substance Abuse Treatment

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Historically, children of parents with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders and histories of violence/trauma have been overlooked in behavioral health treatment systems. The Women, Co-occurring Disorders and Violence Study (WCDVS) was a 5-year initiative funded by the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that included a Children's Study that explored the treatment needs of children of women with these multiple disorders. This article describes the development of the Children's Study intervention that included clinical assessment, group intervention, and resource coordination/advocacy for children aged 5–10 to build resilience through increasing coping skills, improving interpersonal relationships, and helping coalesce positive identity and self-esteem. Innovative procedures, including the participation of consumer/survivor/recovering women and mothers, in the planning, implementation, and administrative applications of this intervention and study are also highlighted. It is recommended that programs begin to implement family-focused integrated treatment approaches that can potentially increase protective factors for children affected by parental mental illness, substance abuse, and violence.