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Advanced Treatment Methods Class: PSY 780 - Spring 2003
ASU - Family Court Collaboration on Parental Conflict Resolution Class

Irwin Sandler, A.S.U Prevention Research Center in collaboration with Wanda Weber and Phil Knox (Maricopa County Family Court)

Irwin Sandler
Ph: 727-6121
e-mail: Irwin.Sandler@ASU.EDU
Rm 221 Tech Center

Meeting Times: Weds. 2:00 – 5:00 Rm. 267 Tech Bldg

This Advanced Treatment Methods course is being given as a collaboration between A.S.U. (Psychology Department and Prevention Research Center) and the Maricopa County Superior Court’s Family Court Department (Court). The focus of the class will be on a program given by the Court, entitled “Parental Conflict Resolution”. This program was designed by the court for families who have experienced long-term conflict over custody and parenting issues. The course is designed to meet the needs of students for a meaningful practicum experience applying their skills in program evaluation, program design and prevention science methodology to contribute to the further development and evaluation of a program currently being delivered in a real world setting. They will learn by doing, by working on a specific project that contributes to the further development and evaluation of this program. The course is also designed to meet the needs of the Court by providing concrete assistance in the further development and evaluation of the Parent Conflict Resolution program. There will be two phases to the practicum.

Phase 1: January 22 – February 12. The first phase will involve learning about the program and getting an overview on the research literature on interparental conflict, programs to reduce the impact of interparental conflict on children. This will provide us all with a shared base of experience for our work on the program.

January 29: Learning about the Parental Conflict Resolution program:
The first phase of the class will involve learning about the program. We will learn about the program in several ways. Experientially, we will all attend a session of the class, as participants. We will also review the written curriculum material for the program. We will also have several discussions about the program with the program director (Wanda Weber); and introductory overview before we attend, and following our sitting in on a program session. We will learn about issues such as:
a) What is the history and current status of the program? Why and when was it developed? Who developed it? What function does it serve in the Courts? How is it funded? What challenges did the program face in being developed? What current challenges does it face?
b) What is the theory behind the program? What are the intended outcomes it is designed to accomplish? What activities or program components are designed to achieve those outcomes?
c) How does the program function? How are parents referred to the program? Is it mandatory or voluntary? How many parents? How long is the program? Who administers the program?
d) How has the program been evaluated to date? We will review evaluation material that has been already developed for the program by the Court.

February 5: Research on theory: Effects of interparental conflict on children and potentially modifiable mediators

1. Margolin, G., Oliver, P. H., & Medina, A. M. (2001). Conceptual issues in understanding the relation between interparental conflict and child adjustment: Integrating developmental psychopathology and risk/resilience perspectives. In J. H. Grych & F. D. Fincham (Eds.), Interparental conflict and child development: Theory, research and application. (pp. 9 – 39). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
2. Grych, J. H., & Cardoza-Fernandes, S. (2001). Understanding the impact of interparental conflict on children: The role social cognitive processes. In J. H. Grych & F. D. Fincham (Eds.), Interparental conflict and child development: Theory, research and application. (pp. 157 - 188). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
3. Cox, M. J., Paley, B., & Harter, K. (2001). Interparental conflict and parent-child relationships. In J. H. Grych & F. D. Fincham (Eds.), Interparental conflict and child development: Theory, research and application. (pp. 249 – 273). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

February 12: Research on interventions: Review of programs to prevent and remediate the effects of interparental conflict on children.

1. Turner, C. M., & Dadds, M. R. (2001). Clinical prevention and remediation of child adjustment problems. In J. H. Grych & F. D. Fincham (Eds.), Interparental conflict and child development: Theory, research and application. (pp. 387-417). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
2. Emery, R. E. Interparental conflict and social policy. In J. H. Grych & F. D. Fincham (Eds.), Interparental conflict and child development: Theory, research and application. (pp. 417 – 443). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Phase 2: February 19 – Semester end: Work on class project. The class will work on two projects, with half the students working on one project and half on the other. Each project will be done collaboratively with personnel from the Court.

Project 1: Develop and pilot test an evaluation for the program. This evaluation will build on and extend the evaluation already designed by the Court. We will initially utilize data the Court has already collected and do some data analysis to see what can be learned from existing data. We will then consider alternative evaluation measures and designs that might be implemented by the courts. This will include reviewing evaluations that have been conducted by other Court programs for high conflict families. Possibly redesigning measures for a telephone follow-up of families that participated in the intervention program. Pilot testing the measures with a small sample of families, using students in the class as the interviewers. Possibly obtain and report on data on use of court services by families who have been in the program. Conceptualize and make recommendations of additional or alternative evaluation models that might be used by the courts in the future.
Resource material:
Braver, S.L., Smith, M.C., & DeLuse, S.R. (1997). Methodological considerations in evaluating family court programs: A primer using divorced parent education programs as a case example. Family and Conciliation Courts Review, 35, 9-36.

Project 2: Collaborate with the team from the court on the redesign of the program. The Court is planning on redesigning the Parental Conflict Resolution program this Spring, and the student team will be a resource assisting the Court team in the redesign. This will involve several steps including:
1. Conceptualizing what we are trying to change and how that links up with the outcomes we expect to affect. Also placing this within the practical limitations of a program that can be delivered by the courts with existing resources.
2. Review of resource materials and findings from other programs being used by other Courts to work with high conflict families and recommendations concerning other promising program approaches.
3. Conducting background literature review on psychological literature on interventions to reduce interparental conflict. Identification of promising strategies from this broader conflict reduction literature.
4. Working with the design team to write intervention components, to critique and rewrite components.

Class sessions: The class sessions during Phase 1 will focus on discussion of the program, people’s reactions to the curriculum and the presentations they sat in on and the literature that we read as a group.
The class sessions for Phase 2 will focus on the work of the two teams. The class will help trouble shoot issues, react to materials and ideas, and discuss issues in the evaluation and program development work. We can also devote sessions to guest speakers who might have special expertise (e.g. experts on conflict reduction strategies) and to special issues in working with this population (e.g., domestic violence, the perspective of specific advocacy groups, etc.).

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