Pearl Berman, professor and chair of Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Psychology, was honored recently with an elder abuse award by the International Society on Violence Abuse and Trauma.
The Rosalie S. Wolf Memorial Elder Abuse Prevention Award was presented to Berman at the 24th International Conference on Violence Abuse and Trauma Across the Lifespan. Experts in the field credit Dr. Wolf as a driving force behind the elder abuse prevention movement.
“Rosalie S. Wolf was so extraordinary that she was able to see the existence to elder abuse, when the rest of us were blind to it,” Berman said. “I can never see myself as having truly earned an award that has her name on it.”
Berman, a member of the IUP faculty for 33 years, is a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialty in providing treatment to victims of child abuse, neglect, and family violence.
She recently assumed the presidency of the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence, a partnership that includes psychologists, criminologists, social workers, medical doctors, police officers, judges, and lay people from across the United States who are implementing a comprehensive plan to end interpersonal violence in three generations.
As the new president of the organization, she presided over a think tank of close to 90 professionals who gathered in San Diego prior to the conference where her award was presented.
Berman has worked with the National Committee to Prevent Elder Abuse to develop an undergraduate curriculum on elder abuse, including integrating the topic of elder abuse into Child Advocacy Studies programs and their community-based workforce partners that will increase the competence of professionals entering child-serving sectors and retain those professionals in their positions.
At IUP, she has worked to integrate elder abuse into the interdisciplinary Child and Adult Advocacy Studies Minor, a program that she co-directs.
Berman has published a number of doctoral-level textbooks, clinical texts, book chapters, and newsletter articles focused on violence across the lifespan. She has presented her work nationally and internationally.
The fourth edition of her book Case Conceptualization and Treatment Planning, Integrating Theory With Clinical Practice was released in September 2018, expanded to include information about violence throughout the lifespan to be a trauma-informed approach, and to integrate evidence-based practice.
She has a new textbook that will be available beginning January 2020 that is designed for undergraduate study on violence across the lifespan. This text is designed to train social service workers, police officers, psychologists, and medical professions to respond effectively to cases of interpersonal violence and to introduce them to evidence-based practices. This textbook will combine research on interpersonal violence with a complex case history involving two individuals who will grow from early childhood into older adulthood as the book proceeds from units 1–5. The intent of this case history is to help students recognize the complex context within which violence occurs and why there is often, but not always, intergenerational transmission of violence.
Berman is the Pennsylvania coordinator for ChildFirst PA, a forensic training program that is part of a national movement to provide effective education on forensic interviewing to police officers, child protection officers, domestic violence interviewers, and others working in this field.
In January 2018, Berman and IUP sociology faculty member Dana Hysock Witham were selected as pilot participants for Project FORECAST (Foundations for Outreach through Experiential Child Advocacy Studies Training). The mission of Project FORECAST is to develop training partnerships with universities with Child Advocacy Studies programs and their community-based workforce partners that will increase the competence of professionals entering child-serving sectors and retain those professionals in their positions.
Project FORECAST is a five-year grant funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration through its National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative. Using innovative problem-based learning simulations (PBL-S), Project FORECAST focuses on developing a set of trauma-informed experiential reasoning skills appropriate for use by undergraduate students from a variety of disciplines and professionals entering child-serving sectors.
As part of this work, Berman and Hysock Witham implemented PBL-S in their undergraduate Child and Adult Advocacy Studies courses. The Child and Adult Advocacy Studies minor and certification program at IUP are the first of their kind in the United States to address violence across the lifespan.