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Children's Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis (CASGSL)

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, undergraduate teaching, 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 engage 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 caregivers. 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), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), cognitive-behavioral treatment for children with problematic sexual behavior, Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress (SPARCS), and Integrative Treatment for Complex Trauma. All of these treatment modalities have been identified as promising or established treatment options for traumatized children.

CASGSL has three locations, one located on the South Campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, one in the Central West End and the third in Kirkwood. Therapeutic and forensic services can be provided at all three locations.

The adjunct intern at CASGSL will provide therapeutic services to traumatized children and their non-offending caregivers. Therapeutic services for these clients will include initial evaluation of the history of trauma exposure and the presentation of emotional and behavioral difficulties. Depending on scheduling, the adjunct intern may also serve as a co-therapist in one of CASGSL’s group treatment programs.  The adjunct intern will be expected to carry a caseload of approximately 2-6 clients weekly, depending on other duties. Interns receive one hour of formal one-to-one supervision with their primary supervisor and may also attend other didactic opportunities provided at CASGSL.


MATTHEW D. KLIETHERMES, Ph.D., is the Training Director for Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis (CASGSL). Dr. Kliethermes is a Missouri Licensed Psychologist/Health Services Provider and an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at University of Missouri-St. Louis. He received Ph.D. (2003) in Clinical Psychology at Saint Louis University, interned at La Rabida Children’s Hospital in Chicago, and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Trauma Recovery at University of Missouri-St. Louis.  Dr. Kliethermes has over 17 years of experience and extensive training in the field of child trauma.  He provides direct clinical services to youth exposed to trauma and their caregivers, supervises mental health trainees, teaches at the undergraduate level, and provides frequent training and consultation at local, state, and national levels.  Dr. Kliethermes is a nationally certified Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) trainer and the author of multiple book chapters and articles pertaining to TF-CBT and/or childhood trauma.

JERRY H. DUNN, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis (CASGSL) and oversees the clinical, forensic, research and training activities of the agency’s three sites. Dr. Dunn is a licensed psychologist and is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her clinical and research interests involve assessment and treatment of high-risk children and their family members in community and school based settings. Dr. Dunn received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, interned with the St. Louis Psychology Internship Consortium and completed her post-doctoral fellowship at the Community Psychological Service. Dr. Dunn maintains active membership in child centered organizations at the local, state and federal levels. She serves on the Advisory Council for the St. Louis Family and Community Partnership, sits on the Board of Directors for Missouri KidsFirst and acts as the agency liaison to the National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network.

LAURA KAEHLER, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist at the Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis (CASGSL). She received her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the University of Oregon in 2014. Dr. Kaehler completed her pre-doctoral internship at Duke University Medical Center, and she also participated in a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina, Department of Psychology. At CASGSL, Dr. Kaehler’s responsibilities include providing clinical services, teaching at the undergraduate level, and engaging in program evaluation. Dr. Kaehler’s clinical and research interests are in the areas of trauma sequelae, trauma-informed parenting, and prosocial behavior.