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An Education for Mental Health Care Providers: Sex Trafficking Victim Identification

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Purpose: The purpose of this project was to examine if a relationship existed between the changes in attitude and knowledge of a mental health care provider, before and after an educational intervention was given on how to identify sex trafficking

Purpose: The purpose of this project was to examine if a relationship existed between the changes in attitude and knowledge of a mental health care provider, before and after an educational intervention was given on how to identify sex trafficking victims.

Background: According to the National Trafficking Hotline (2017), last year there were over 5,000 cases of sex trafficking reported. Lederer & Wetzel (2014) discuss that more than 88% of victims interact with a health care provider while being trafficked at least once. A majority of cases, mental health care providers were informed that their patient was a sex trafficking victim through collaboration of other services. Without this collaboration, many providers would have never
known that they had interacted with a victim (Domoney, Howard, Abas, Broadben, & Oram, 2015).

Methods: The participant population consisted of psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychologists working in acute and out patient settings.
A pre survey was given to identify the participant’s knowledge of sex trafficking and their awareness of available resources and tools to help screen as well as treat victims of sex trafficking. After completion, the participants viewed an educational voice over presentation that educated them on how to identify current sex trafficking victims, what screening tools are available, the mental health risk factors and how to protect both the victim and provider from potential danger from the alleged trafficker. A post survey was then given to assess their knowledge after the presentation intervention, how much they retained and their confidence in being able to assess and treat sex trafficking victims. All surveys and the presentation were available online for participant convenience via a private link.

Results: The knowledge posttest score was higher than the pretest (Z=-2.694, p<0.007).
The confidence score on treating sex trafficking victims was higher posttest (Z=-2.251, p<0.024) No significant change in attitudes for advocating for sex trafficking victim care. All providers agreed that this high-risk vulnerable population needs advocates (Z=4.67, p<0.707).

Conclusion: All providers agreed for the need to advocate for victim care prior to the educational intervention. The results suggest that mental health providers are more knowledgeable posttest about risk factors, have a higher level of confidence in treating sex trafficking victims and have a higher confidence in their ability to protect victims and provide adequate care.

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Date Created
2018-04-29

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Equine Assisted Learning: An Evidence-Based Intervention for Families

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Background: It is estimated that 50% of all mental illness arises prior to age 14, an incident attributed in part to disruptions and imbalances within the family system. Equine assisted learning is a complementary and alternative approach to family therapy

Background: It is estimated that 50% of all mental illness arises prior to age 14, an incident attributed in part to disruptions and imbalances within the family system. Equine assisted learning is a complementary and alternative approach to family therapy which is being used increasingly to promote mental health in both adults and children. This study sought to build and deliver an evidence-based, family-centered equine assisted learning program aimed at promoting family function, family satisfaction and child social-emotional competence, and to measure its acceptability and preliminary effect.

Method: Twenty families with children 10 years and older were recruited to participate in a 3-week equine assisted learning program at a therapeutic riding center in Phoenix, Arizona. Sessions included groundwork activities with horses used to promote life skills using experiential learning theory. The study design included a mixed-method quasi-experimental one-group pretest posttest design using the following mental health instruments: Devereaux Student Strengths Assessment, Brief Family Assessment Measure (3 dimensions), and Family Satisfaction Scale to measure child social-emotional competence, family function, and family satisfaction, respectively. Acceptability was determined using a Likert-type questionnaire with open-ended questions to gain a qualitative thematic perspective of the experience.

Results: Preliminary pretest and posttest comparisons were statistically significant for improvements in family satisfaction (p = 0.001, M = -5.84, SD = 5.63), all three domains of family function (General Scale: p = 0.005, M = 6.84, SD = 9.20; Self-Rating Scale: p = 0.050, M = 6.53, SD = 12.89; and Dyadic Relationship Scale: p = 0.028, M = 3.47, SD = 7.18), and child social-emotional competence (p = 0.015, M = -4.05, SD 5.95). Effect sizes were moderate to large (d > 0.5) for all but one instrument (Self-Rating Scale), suggesting a considerable magnitude of change over the three-week period. The intervention was highly accepted among both children and adults. Themes of proximity, self-discovery, and regard for others emerged during evaluation of qualitative findings. Longitudinal comparisons of baseline and 3-month follow-up remain in-progress, a topic available for future discussion.

Discussion: Results help to validate equine assisted learning as a valuable tool in the promotion of child social-emotional intelligence strengthened in part by the promotion of family function and family satisfaction. For mental health professionals, these results serve as a reminder of the alternatives that are available, as well as the importance of partnerships within the community. For therapeutic riding centers, these results help equine professionals validate their programs and gain a foothold within the scientific community. Additionally, they invite future riding centers to follow course in incorporating evidence into their programs and examining new directions for growth within the mental health community.

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Date Created
2019-05-02