In 1991, a group of professionals in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area who were concerned with the system’s response to childhood sexual abuse found a successful model in the Huntsville Child Advocacy Center and proposed bringing a similar program to St. Louis. Incorporated in 1991 and open for services in 1995, the center was the first Advocacy Center in Missouri. The purpose of the Children’s Advocacy Center was to coordinate efforts and promote collaboration between law enforcement, medical, judicial, and social service agencies during sexual abuse investigations, thus reducing the traumatic effects to children. In 1997, the Children’s Advocacy Center merged with the Kathy J. Weinman Centre, which is located at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Together, the two agencies formed Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis (CASGSL). As a result, more comprehensive services were offered to victims of childhood sexual abuse and their non-offending parents. In 2002, CASGSL became of a member site of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Subsequently, in 2005 CASGSL expanded from solely providing services to sexually abused children, and began offering services to child victims of all forms of trauma. In addition to forensic and therapeutic services, CASGSL also offers professional training, an active research program and prevention awareness initiatives in the St. Louis area.
CASGSL’s multidisciplinary staff includes psychologists, licensed clinical social workers and licensed professional counselors. CASGSL also serves as a training site for graduate-level practicum students in all three disciplines. Furthermore, CASGSL staff frequently engaged in collaborations with other professionals in the fields of law/law enforcement, child protection, medicine, education, and mental health.
CASGSL is the region’s primary provider of evidence-based, trauma-focused services to children ages 3-18 and their non-offending parents. Approximately 700 children per year in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area receive forensic and/or therapeutic services at CASGSL. The majority of clients have a minority status, predominantly African-American. Furthermore, many of the families served at CASGSL have limited financial resources, with approximately 60% of families having an annual household income of less than $20,000. Children who receive services at CASGSL have experienced a wide variety of traumatic events, with exposure to multiple forms of trauma being the norm. The most common forms of trauma experienced by CASGSL clients include sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic violence, neglect, and community violence. The trauma histories of CASGSL clients are frequently complex and long-standing, often beginning in the first few years of life. CASGSL clients present with a variety of emotional and behavioral difficulties including posttraumatic stress, depression, anxiety, conduct disturbances, attention difficulties, emotional and behavioral dysregulation, and sexualized behaviors.
CASGSL provides “state of the art,” evidence-based treatments for difficulties associated with exposure to childhood trauma. Treatment is assessment- driven and interns will be trained in the administration and interpretation of a variety of child and trauma-focused measures. Therapeutic services can be provided in individual, family and group formats, based on the specific needs of a client/family. CASGSL staff members are trained in multiple, evidence-based treatment modalities including: Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Children with Sexual Behavior Problems (CSBP), Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress (SPARCS), and Integrated Treatment for Complex Trauma (ITCT). All of these treatment modalities have been identified as promising or established treatment options for traumatized children.
CASGSL has three locations, one of which is located on the South Campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, a second in the Central West End of St. Louis City and a third in Kirkwood which is located in mid St. Louis County. Forensic services and clinical services are both offered at all three locations.
The adjunct intern at CASGSL will provide therapeutic services to traumatized children and their non-offending parents. Therapeutic services for these clients will include initial evaluation of the history of trauma exposure and the presentation of emotional and behavioral difficulties. The adjunct intern is typically expected to carry a caseload of one group and two to four clients weekly. Interns receive one hour of formal one-to-one supervision with their primary supervisor and additional informal supervision experiences such as case consultation with other staff members.