Child Psychological Maltreatment: Identification to Intervention

Training Overview

Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health (MACMH) is presenting a training opportunity with Marla R. Brassard, PhD, Professor Emerita, Columbia University and Stuart N. Hart, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Indiana University-Pursude University-Indianapolis.

Child psychological maltreatment (CPM) is the most prevalent form of abuse and neglect, produces the longest lasting and widest array of negative developmental consequences, receives the least adequate societal intervention across all tiers, and is given the least attention in the education and training of those responsible for ensuring the safety, resilience and wellbeing of children. The forms of CPM (i.e., terrorizing, spurning, isolating, corrupting/exploiting, emotional unresponsiveness, and medical/mental health/educational neglect) occur as stand-alone maltreatment and also in interaction with other maltreatment types in ways that represent the proverbial “keys in the dark,” arguing that genuine progress will not be made in reducing any violence against children without consideration of CPM.

The workshop will cover four main topics

  1. What is child psychological maltreatment (CPM), why is it so bad, and when does poor parenting cross the line into CPM? Presenters will use vignettes from real CAC and child welfare cases to illustrate the difference between CPM and poor parenting and then ask participants to make their own judgements on additional cases for group discussion.
  2. How to effectively intervene in the moment when you observe poor parenting that might be CPM if sufficiently chronic or severe. Regardless of whether the observed parental behavior rises to a level of reportable maltreatment there are usually things a clinician can do to intervene in the moment. A qualitative study dealing with observed worrying caregiver behavior by mandated reporters will be explored to illuminate intervention options, the nature of observer interventions and their implications. General principles of effective observer interventions will be presented. Then 3-4 cases will be presented for discussion by audience members in terms of what they might have done or typically do to address the types of situations presented in the moment and what they have found to be effective in practice.
  3. What are the features of effective prevention and interventions programs for CPM? This topic will be presented with participant discussion of existing programs in Minnesota that have these or related features. Among the considerations will be (a) a new CPM decision-making model for child protective services which includes definition, caregiver act and harm standards, and (b) interventions options for primary prevention as well as risk-group, and maltreated populations.
  4. How might CPM education be effectively implemented and integrated in Minnesota child services programs and sectors? Participants will be asked to formulate plans for initial and continuing CPM education within their professional sectors and systems of child/family services.

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will be able to describe the different types of psychological maltreatment articulated in the Guidelines for the Psychosocial Evaluation of Suspected Psychological Maltreatment.
  • Participants will be able to generate and judge the applicability of a variety of possible approaches to intervention when they suspect or witness child psychological maltreatment.
  • Participants will be able to describe interventions for CPM in Minnesota applicable at levels of general population, at-risk population and maltreated population.
  • Participants will be able to formulate plans for initial and continuing CPM education within their professional sectors and systems of child/family service


This program includes a 1 hour video overview on child psychological maltreatment for viewing by all participants at their convenience in the week(s) prior to a 4 hour in-person interactive workshop.

About the Presenters

Marla R. Brassard, PhD, is Professor Emerita in the School Psychology Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a licensed psychologist retired after 40 years as professor and director of clinical training in PhD and EDM programs in school psychology. Her current research is on a) interventions to improve professional skills in confronting poor parenting and PM in child welfare and early education settings, b) changing social norms around parenting and CPM on the internet, and c) discerning the unique effects of CPM relative to other forms of maltreatment. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association & Past President of the Council of Directors of School Psychology Programs. She co-wrote the APSAC Guidelines for the Psychosocial Evaluation of Suspected Psychological Maltreatment.

Stuart N. Hart, PhD, is Principal of Strategic Initiatives for the International Institute for Child Rights and Development (IICRD), Victoria, BC, Canada, an affiliate of Royal Roads University; Professor Emeritus, School of Education, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis; and Co-Founder and Executive Board member of the Psychological Maltreatment Alliance (  He is a licensed psychologist, health provider status – Indiana, and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. He has worked in higher education, public and private schools, a children’s hospital, a correctional institution, government, and private practice. He has been president of the International School Psychology Association, National Association of School Psychologists (USA), National Committee for the Rights of the Child (USA), and the Indiana Psychological Association. He was a member of the NGO Advisory Committee for the UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children, co-chaired the drafting committee for the UN’s General Comment 13, The Right of the Child to Freedom from all forms of Violence, and has co-chaired multiple programs for the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on advancing accountability to the children’s rights. He co-directed the NCCAN/HHS project to develop operational definitions of emotional abuse, the first international conference (1983) and the global summit (2019) on psychological maltreatment. He is on the editorial board for Child Abuse and Neglect – The International Journal; was editor and contributor to the UNESCO publication, “Eliminating corporal punishment: The way forward to constructive child discipline” (2005); and was an editor and contributor to the International Handbook on Child Rights and School Psychology (2020). He has conducted research, presented, and published extensively on psychological maltreatment of children and on children’s rights. He is a Guardian ad Litem in Florida.

Register through MACMH

This training is approved for four hours of clinical content and is anticipated to be approved for four hours of supervision, and four hours of cultural competency content.

Lunch is included


October 17, 2023
9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Training Category:


Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health
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Washburn Center for Children & Training Institute
1100 Glenwood Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55405 United States
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