Case Western Reserve University: Center on Trauma and Adversity


The Center on Trauma and Adversity (Trauma Center) was established to respond to the need for trauma-focused research and the development of trained social workers who can effectively assess, intervene, and treat people and communities affected by trauma—to help them experience healing, overcome adversity, reduce suffering, and achieve recovery and resilience.


Reducing the impact of #trauma and #adversity through research and training to develop a skilled trauma-informed #SocialWork workforce.



Training and Research

The training focus of the Trauma Center bridges the classroom and the community, expanding trauma-informed knowledge to social work master’s students through innovative curriculum and field placements (internships) at partner agencies. The Trauma Center seeks to establish student fellowships for specialized trauma training in partner agencies that serve children, youth, families, or communities who have experienced trauma.

Learn more about the Trauma Center’s training and research initiatives.

Healing Network Nights

The Center on Trauma and Adversity hosts monthly Healing Network Nights open to all local helping professionals. We aim to foster social connections and quality relationships, enhance interprofessional collaboration and community, and promote a more resilient network of trauma-informed professionals across the city and surrounding areas.

Learn more about Healing Network Nights.


Educating and Training a Skilled Trauma-Informed Workforce: Specialized Trauma Fellowships

Graduate social work education must prepare students for competent trauma-informed practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities because social workers are the largest mental health profession treating trauma survivors. Standards for competent practice in response to trauma are an ethical obligation of the profession, as the likelihood of encountering trauma survivors in every practice setting is very high. Our community is in great need of social workers with clinical expertise to effectively assess, diagnose and treat children, youth, and families affected by trauma. The Trauma Center was created to respond to this need and, to that end, has developed a specialized program to train social work students and master’s-level social workers in trauma-informed and evidence-based skills necessary for effective trauma intervention.

By training a skilled trauma-informed workforce, many people will experience healing, reduced suffering, enhanced supportive relationships, and potentially reduce the intergenerational transmission of adversity. The Trauma Center will offer two specialized training opportunities.

Learn more about student training.

Research Mentorship, Doctoral Student Funding, Teaching Mentorship, Ongoing Support and Professional Development

The Trauma Center faculty are passionate about their ongoing work with the Mandel School doctoral students. They provide multiple training opportunities to learn essential research and scholarship skills to facilitate the development of becoming a productive independent scholar. Under their mentorship, students can receive applied research experience in both qualitative and quantitative methodology; obtain authorship on publications; learn the process of grant writing; present research at national conferences; and develop their own clear independent research and scholarship plan.

Learn more about the PhD in Social Welfare.

Over the past 20 years, a convergence of research on neuroscience, epigenetics, adversity and toxic stress has established that exposure to trauma and toxic stress adversely affects the health and well-being of children, youth, adults and communities. Social workers in all practice areas are likely to encounter trauma and adversity in the populations they serve. Prepare to engage in trauma-informed practice with a certificate designed to address differential responses to trauma.

Learn more about the Certificate in Trauma-Informed Practice.

Research shows that scientists and trainees from diverse backgrounds and life experiences bring different perspectives, creativity, and individual enterprise to address complex scientific problems. Diversity fosters scientific innovation, contributes to robust learning environments, and improves the quality of research.

The goal of the Center on Trauma and Adversity Underrepresented Minority Research Scholars (Research Scholars) program is to enhance the participation of individuals from racial and ethnic groups that are historically underrepresented in the behavioral and social sciences. Funding is provided to underrepresented minority students, helping them gain applied research experience, enhance their education, and successfully prepare for a variety of careers or continued higher education.

Each scholar is paired with a Trauma Center Faculty Affiliate for a semester-long research mentorship. Scholars have opportunities to participate in research workshops and trainings, present and attend national and local research conferences, and complete a capstone project related to their applied research experience.

Learn more about the Research Scholars program.

Dr. Shawn Ginwright recently released a healing centered engagement certification. The certification is achieved through an online certification course targeting youth development workers, teachers, and school administrators.  Self-paced, the course can be taken anywhere on an individual’s schedule.  Learn through videos, animated scenarios and interactive and reflective learning activities.


Megan Holmes, PhD

Megan R. Holmes, PhD

Associate Professor, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences


Dr. Holmes is an Assistant Professor and Founding Director of the Center on Trauma and Adversity. She has over 10 years of clinical practice and research experience working in the field of child exposure to domestic violence and child maltreatment. The overarching goal of her research is to contribute to the optimal development of children who have been exposed to domestic violence by identifying risk and protective factors that will be translated into interventions. Read more.

Jennifer King

Jennifer A. King, DSW, LISW

Assistant Professor, Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences


Dr. King is an Assistant Professor and the Assistant Director of the Center on Trauma and Adversity. She has over a decade of clinical practice experience working directly with traumatized individuals, families, and communities with the goal of addressing the impact of trauma across systems in order to help the traumatized move from surviving to thriving. Her early work with children who experienced chronic, ongoing, complex traumatic stress led to strong interest in the questions clinicians ask, and how they ask them, in order to appropriately plan and carry out services. Read more.


The Center on Trauma and Adversity at Case Western Reserve University’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences is committed to sharing high-impact research that supports practitioners and policymakers to reduce the impact of trauma and adversity in order to promote healing with individuals and communities.

Prenatal Exposure to Domestic Violence

Domestic violence affects individuals of all ages but is most prevalent among women of reproductive age. U.S. national prevalence estimates show that over one third of women (43.6 million) have experienced domestic violence at some point in their lifetime, leading to adverse impact on health and well-being.

Impact of Domestic Violence Exposure

Exposure to domestic violence negatively affects children of all ages from infancy to adolescence. Children exposed to domestic violence have a higher risk of developing behavioral, mental health, cognitive, social, physical health, and physiological problems.

Symptom Domains of Indirect Trauma

Indirect trauma is any combination of adverse transformations in the professional’s behavior, emotions and/or cognitive perceptions resulting from empathic engagement and sitting with the stories of those who have experienced trauma.


No ‘one-size-fits-all solution’ for children exposed to domestic violence, researchers say

Publish date: December 3, 2020

Some of the most affected by domestic violence are also the youngest. Each year, more than 6% of all children in the United States are exposed to domestic violence and require intervention services from various agencies, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

A team of researchers at Case Western Reserve University surveyed 105 agencies throughout Ohio to better understand service, policy and research needs—and get feedback about potential strategies to protect children from intimate partner violence.

Caring for Educators in the Trauma-Informed Environment

Publish date: October 9, 2020

Over the last few months, our nation’s educators have been forced to be in a constant state of revaluation of educational practices to ensure that all children can continue to thrive during online learning and distance-learning.

The City Club of Cleveland recently hosted a virtual session with community leaders Habeebah Grimes and Dr. Megan Holmes to discuss trauma-informed educational practices, the role of educators in response to vulnerable kids, and the ongoing needs for educator self-care.

Trauma Center's Research Scholars program now accepting applications

Publish date: August 7, 2020

The goal of the Research Scholars program is to enhance the participation of individuals from racial and ethnic groups that are historically underrepresented in the behavioral and social sciences. Funding is provided to underrepresented minority students, helping them gain applied research experience, enhance their education, and successfully prepare for a variety of careers or continued higher education.

18 research teams receive over $500,000 in pilot grants to study COVID-19

Publish date: July 30, 2020

From trying to understand lung immunity in COVID-19 patients to recognizing the impact the pandemic has had on mental health, researchers at Case Western Reserve University and affiliated health care systems have joined forces to expand and improve research on the virus in the community and beyond. 

Case Western Reserve team studying ‘unprecedented’ levels of trauma caused by COVID-19 pandemic

Publish date: May 1, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic could inflict long-lasting emotional trauma on an unprecedented global scale, leaving millions grappling with debilitating psychological disorders, according to a new study commissioned by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Case Western Reserve University.

Case Western Reserve University research finds high rates of trauma exposure, PTSD symptoms for those in drug court

Publish date: March 10, 2020

Nearly 94% of defendants in Cuyahoga County drug court have been exposed to trauma and many suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a new Case Western Reserve University study.

Voith Co-Authors Study That Finds Resilience Can Break Cycle of Intimate Partner Violence in Men

Publish date: September 10, 2019

Studies have shown that male victims of domestic violence are at greater risk of growing up to be perpetrators themselves. New research suggests potential pathways of how that devastating cycle might be broken.

Financial Costs of Childhood Exposure to Domestic Violence

Publish date: October 24, 2018

For children exposed to domestic violence, the toll is immeasurable. But what’s the financial cost to society? About $55 billion, according to a study by Case Western Reserve researchers published earlier this year in the Journal of Family Violence and called “groundbreaking” by the publication’s editor, Rebecca Macy.