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Welcome from the Director

Family life is the cauldron for healthy child development. When families are loving, flexible, structured and adaptable, children grow up feeling the world is a safe place and that they are worthy of being loved and protected. Confidence about oneself and the world impacts one’s social, emotional, academic and neurobiological development. Children’s temperament, genetics, biology and health certainly contribute to their developmental course. But when parents are supportive, attentive, available and protective, children have the greatest chance of meeting developmental milestones with success and reward. Unfortunately many families struggle with adversities. This can include poverty, medical or mental health problems, marital conflict, discrimination or other stressors that make family life less organized and emotionally safe. Sometimes it is the child that brings these problems (e.g., chronic illness) and even the best parents are destabilized. Sometimes parents struggle with problems such as depression, substance use or medical problems, making them less available to their children. Regardless of the origins of the stress, how families respond, adapt and overcome these challenges greatly determines the degree to which these adversities derail child development.

The Family Intervention Science (FIS) program was established at Drexel University to support research that would help promote family strengths and reduce family adversity, both within the family and the environment. Our core research team and several collaborators dedicate their research to better understating how stress affects families, how families respond to these problems and how mental health providers can help families surmount these challenges. These researchers work in a number of clinical environments including outpatient mental health, medical settings such as primary care and emergency rooms, schools and communities. In these contexts, we aim to understand how the organization of services contributes to family health and well-being. But regardless of the treatment context or the age of the clients, investigators at FIS are unified by a common goal: mobilizing family strengths and resources so they can provide a richer more productive developmental context for children and adolescents.

Guy Diamond, PhD
Director, Family Intervention Science
Director, Couple & Family Therapy PhD Program