Psychology Faculty Member Co-Presents Workshop on Trauma of Racism: Talking to Children and Teens

Posted on 8/20/2020 8:43:30 AM

Pearl Berman, professor and chair of the Department of Psychology, was the organizer and co-presenter for an August 19 workshop on “The Trauma of Racism: Talking to Children and Teens.”

The 60-minute workshop was designed to help parents and other concerned adults talk to children and teens about the historical trauma faced by African Americans and how this has influenced current civic unrest over police brutality and racism. 

The workshop included a psychoeducational approach and provided practical ideas to stimulate adult thinking about what strategies might work best with a particular family. Ideas discussed included what can support resilient development and a sense of agency for ending racial trauma. 

The goals of the webinar were to integrate issues of the historical trauma faced by the African American community into their discussions of current events; integrate an understanding of child development into their discussions of traumatic events with children and teens; and analyze a family’s needs and plan a variety of actions to process traumatic events. 

Berman was joined for the program by Kristin Washington, PsyD, PMP, president and CEO of W2 Consulting Corporation, a management consulting firm focused on delivering program and project management, research and evaluation, and strategic communications and branding services. Washington is a clinical psychologist, Army veteran, and certified project management professional. Her subject matter expertise includes behavioral health, military and veterans’ issues, health and healthcare disparities, cultural competence, evaluation, and public policy. 

In addition to her faculty role at IUP, Berman is president of the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan and a licensed clinical psychologist whose career has focused on treatment and prevention of violence in families. Berman has taught 21 different undergraduate and doctoral courses over her 33 years at IUP. She is the Pennsylvania coordinator for ChildFirst PA, a forensic training program for police officers, children and youth workers, and child advocacy center interviewers. Berman has published books for professionals, doctoral students, and undergraduate students on violence prevention. 

In fall 2019, Berman was honored with an elder abuse award by the International Society on Violence Abuse and Trauma, the Rosalie S. Wolf Memorial Elder Abuse Prevention Award. She received the award at the 24th International Conference on Violence Abuse and Trauma Across the Lifespan. She is the president of the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence, a partnership including 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 to 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 (TIERS) 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 CAAST minor and certification program at IUP are the first of their kind in the US to address violence across the lifespan.