A CULTURAL ADAPTATION OF THE COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTION FOR TRAUMA IN SCHOOLS (CBITS) FOR THE RICHMOND, VIRGINIA REGION
Childhood Trauma Childhood trauma has been linked to academic difficulties, behavior problems, school absenteeism, reduced neurological functioning, developmental delays, and decreases in future productivity in many studies (Berger, 2019; Kataoka et al., 2018; Márquez Aponte, 2020; Perry & Daniels, 2016). This project examines the pervasive social problem of childhood trauma exposure and provides an innovative solution, the RVA CBITS Update, to address this issue. Objectives of the innovation include decreasing traumatic stress symptoms and negative behaviors and improving academic performance among youth with trauma exposure (Santiago et al., 2014, 2015) in the Richmond, Virginia, area. Community Engagement An existing evidence-based group intervention utilized in schools around the nation, the Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) (Chafouleas et al., 2016), was culturally adapted to create the innovation, the RVA CBITS Update. To obtain recommendations for modifying the CBITS to reflect the unique cultural backgrounds of youth in the Richmond, Virginia region (Ngo et al., 2008), surveys were administered to eight community stakeholders. Survey data were analyzed using a content analysis method to determine the recurring themes related to respondents’ proposed adaptations to the CBITS manual. Conceptual Model The RVA CBITS Update project is informed by Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality Theory (Besic, 2020; McGee & Stovall, 2015) and aims to center the oppressive experiences of students of color, who are disproportionately impacted by trauma exposure (Powell & Davis, 2019; Santiago et al., 2014, 2015; Vona et al., 2018). Moreover, the project endeavors to address the school to prison pipeline phenomenon (Heise & Nance, 2021; Muñiz, 2021; Prins et al., 2022) by ameliorating negative behaviors and providing mental health services for minoritized youth who are often retraumatized in schools due to discriminatory practices which replicate intersecting societal disparities (Besic, 2020; Gorski, 2020). Evaluation Methodology Summary To evaluate the cultural content of the RVA CBITS Update, member checks of the modified manual were completed by community members. In the near future, a pilot RVA CBITS Update Group will be conducted with a group of middle school students with trauma exposure in a school district in the Richmond, Virginia region. The RVA CBITS Update is anticipated to benefit traumatized youth by increasing access to treatment, and is expected to aid the larger Richmond region by improving the future economic productivity and emotional stability of youth participants. Conclusion and Implications The current study suggests that future research should examine the traumatic experiences of students of color and newcomer youth to amplify the voices of these populations in social work literature. An implementation plan delineates the next steps for conducting the RVA CBITS Update pilot group, scaling the project, and eventually disseminating the innovation to school systems and other youth serving agencies beyond the Richmond, Virginia region.
A capstone project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Social Work
Social Work, Education