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Innovative Community Academic Partnership (iCAP)

Funded Projects 2010-2011

1. Youth Offender Diversion Alternative (YODA)
2. Common Threads
3. Choices and Consequences
4. Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors Team (LOSS)
5. Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)

Youth Offender Diversion Alternative (YODA) – Developing a Youth Offender Diversion Alternative (YODA) Community Program to Prevent Future Family Violence in Tarrant County

Principal Investigators: Dr. Peter Lehmann and Dr. Catheleen Jordan
Community Partner: Tarrant County Criminal Courts

Research Questions:

  1. Can youth offenders who are charged with a misdemeanor family violence against a non intimate partner, family member or relative be diverted by developing a youth offender diversion alternative (YODA) program?
  2. Can future family violence be prevented by implementing a 3 phase SFBT community based program comprised of an adolescent sufficiency assessment and a family assessment (phase 1), ongoing case management to meet the adolescent’s self sufficiency needs (phase 2), and family therapy intervention (phase 3)?

Project Description:
Youth Offender Diversion Alternative (YODA) is a community- based volunteer program for youth charged with domestic violence against a non- intimate family member. The program attempts to increase non- offending behaviors through a three- phase process using Solution- Focused Brief Therapy. Youth offenders are young persons, usually living with adult caregivers, typically aged 6 through 24, who have been charged with misdemeanor family violence. The aim of this project is the prevention of future non-intimate partner family violence through an innovative and collaborative community-based volunteer diversion program. The goal is to stop youth offenders’ violent behaviors before they can reoccur by redirecting them. The diversion program consists of three phases using solution-focused theory: (phase 1) assessing self sufficiency needs and family issues to create an intervention plan, (phase 2) case management using the intervention plan to increase self sufficiency behaviors and skills, and (phase 3) family therapy to increase family involvement and prevent future aggressive behaviors.

Project Impact:

  • Clients are showing a significant increase in resiliency, hope, self-sufficiency, ability to solution build, mental health, basic needs, life satisfaction, and family relations.
  • Clients are showing a significant decrease in aggression, stress, and alcohol and substance abuse.
  • Of the clients that have successfully completed the program, none have re offended in Tarrant County according to court records.

Presentaion Basel, Switzerland

icap yoda

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Common Threads - Refugee Reintegration through Financial Literacy, Community Building and Creative Arts

Principal Investigators: Dr. Regina Aguirre and Dr. Diane Mitschke
Community Partner: Worn Project, Catholic Charities

Research Questions:

  • Does group cohesion and social support contribute to better outcomes in the areas of financial stability, trauma, somatization, depression, and anxiety among recently resettled Bhutanese refugee women and their families?
  • Does the addition of a creative arts component in the form of scarf production further enhance well-being, with social-enterprise providing a real and substantive increase in family income, thus promoting financial stability for participants above and beyond gains in financial knowledge and understanding?

Project Description:
Common Threads is an empowerment-focused reintegration study designed collaboratively by Catholic Charities Diocese of Fort Worth (CCFW) and two faculty of UTA School of Social Work. The project engages a unique and innovative approach to addressing some of the major challenges faced by Bhutanese refugee women and their families. This study aims to enhance the financial stability of these families through the implementation of a cohort-based intensive financial education curriculum. Cohorts will consist of 15 women, and the curriculum will last 12 weeks. The curriculum will cover various aspects of the U.S. banking system, steps toward achieving financial stability, and establishing income and savings goals. The women will also participate in a carefully designed social enterprise project in which they will produce and market hand-knitted scarves, which will be sold to local boutiques and will provide a real and sustainable increase in monthly income. The study will also attempt to ascertain whether socialization and/or social enterprise has a significant impact on symptoms of anxiety, depression and somatization among recently resettled Bhutanese.

Project Impact:

  • This year the program has provided an opportunity for 17 refugee women, and estimated 30 next year.
  • Scarves have reached mass appeal, and 1500 have been produced.
  • For every 6 scarves made, rent for one month is paid
  • The knitting + financial literacy group has improved in terms of social support, and their post-traumatic stress symptoms have decreased.
  • The financial literacy group has reported decreased anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress symptoms.


WORN for Peace helps refugee women resettle by Shannon Powell & Paige Smith

WFAA Posted on June 29, 2012 at 7:32 AM Meredith Schaefer and Moo Dah Htoo stopped by GMT to talk about WORN for Peace, a new initiative designed to empower refugee women with skills and income resulting in a successful transition to their new world.

Reducing risk: Dr. Regina Aguirre, left, and Dr. Diane Mitschke have conducted research showing that post-traumatic stress disorder can be controlled.

Researchers discover promising way to combat PTSD in refugees

Regina Aguirre and Diane Mitschke, assistant professors in the School of Social Work, have documented success in reducing the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder in female refugees from war-torn countries.

Conducting research in conjunction with the refugee resettlement program of Catholic Charities Fort Worth, the study began with 47 female refugees from Bhutan, a small country on China’s southern border, who each had exhibited PTSD.

“We set out to see if some women could be helped, and we discovered there might be a fundamental problem with the way we handle refugees in this country,” Dr. Aguirre says. “We observed a method of giving refugees the ability to help themselves, and improve their mental health in the process.”

Read more about the PTSD research.

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Choices and Consequences - Online, Multi-User Game to Reduce Substance Abuse and Dating Violence

Principal Investigators: Dr. Schoech, Dr. Black, Dr. Boyas, Dr. Zaruba, Dr. Huber
Community Partners: Arlington ISD, Arlington PD, UTA School of Engineering

Research Questions:

  • Is it feasible to create an online, multiuser, web-smartphone game for youth using research based best practice and curricula in order to prevent substance abuse and dating violence behaviors?
  • How effective is Choices and Consequences at reducing substance use and dating violence behavior among participating youth?

Project Description:
Choices & Consequences is a project that aims to develop an online, multi-player, computer tablet-based game for middle school teens using research and best practices based curricula in order to prevent substance use and abuse and dating violence behaviors. The development of the game stems from a collaboration between faculty in the School of Social Work and Computer Science and Engineering. In spring 2011, teens at Venture Alternative School in Arlington helped with the design and development of various social scenarios that players work through as they select actions and handle challenges while constructing a fun, yet risk-free weekend. Once the student chooses their action, then the game shows them the possible positive and negative consequences associated with their actions. Every scenario assesses for level of risk and fun. The players win the game when they achieve the highest score after risk scores are subtracted from fun scores. In fall 2001, Venture teens tested out the beta version of the game in several classes and focus groups were conducted to attempt to gain more information about the strengths and limitations of the game in order to continue to improve the game. A more refined version of the game will be tested by Venture teens in the spring of 2012. Additionally, a more formal and quantitative evaluation will be conducted to determine if the game can be successful in reducing substance use and dating violence behaviors. As part of the evaluation, we will examine whether the program helped increase levels of self-efficacy among participants and test whether youth moved within the various stages of change related to substance use and dating violence, while taking into account the participants’ gender, race and ethnicity, age, and previous history of substance use and dating violence.

Project Impact:

  • 26 students have completed 3 weeks of playing the game
  • Based on focus groups conducted with Venture students, players reported that they preferred the computer game format of delivery versus the traditional workbook format used in common prevention programs; students felt that the scenarios were generally realistic and they learned new ways to handle situations in which they are placed; and youth reported being intrigued by learning more about the positive and negative effects associated with decision-making.
  • The latest round of players reported that the game made them think about their actions when confronted with challenges they have not experienced in real life. For example, one Venture girl reported learning about problems with meeting a new online “friend” for the first time. A safe meeting place like a mall with her friend watching, did not turn out as safe as she thought because her friend met her boyfriend and they left her alone with the online “friend” who looked much older than he indicated online.
  • Some Venture players also enjoyed the new ideas they gained from the discussion of their actions as they played the game as a team. Gary Grossman, social worker for Venture School, says the game frequently leads to spirited class discussions about drinking, violence in dating and other issues young people face. He further adds that, “Teenagers have an immediate comfort level and familiarity with technology, which opens them up to learning”. Teachers as Venture were generally positive about the game and felt that the game could be an important tool in teaching students about substance abuse and dating violence.
  • A more refined version of the game will be tested by Venture teens in the spring of 2012.

Dr. Dick Schoech be presenting a keynote at the 3rd International Forum on Virtual Teaching and Cyberpsychology in Mexico City this Thursday November 8th 2012 on 2 applications. One application will be Choices & Consequences.

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Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors Team (LOSS) - A Pilot Project to Prevent Suicide in Arlington, Texas

Principal Investigator: Dr. Regina Aguirre
Community Partner: Arlington PD and Mental Health Association

Research Questions:

  • Do survivors who are served by the LOSS Team access grief support services in the community sooner after the loved one’s suicide than those who are not served by the LOSS Team?
  • Will LOSS Team activities expand APD VAU supportive services by assisting family members affected by suicide?
  • Will LOSS Team members maintain baseline scores as measured by the Patient Health Questionnaire-Somatic, Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms Scale (PHQ-SADS)?

Project Description:
The LOSS Team is a community-driven pilot project made up of volunteers who are survivors of suicide (people who have lost someone to suicide) and/or mental health professionals. The team is a result of the collaboration between the leadership of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Tarrant County (SPC), Arlington Police Department Victim Assistance Unit (APD VAU) and Regina Aguirre, PhD. The team provides on-site supportive services to new survivors, such as answering questions, offering comfort, and explaining available resources. The team aims to reduce the time survivors take in utilizing available grief support services, in order to reduce the survivors’ risk of suicide and other symptoms of trauma. In addition, the study will also ascertain whether participation in providing LOSS Team services impacts the mental health of the team members. The LOSS team is unique because it includes a comprehensive mechanism to reach survivors that is not present in other implementations of this model.


1. Aguirre, R.T.P. & Frank, L. (2013). The LOSS Team—An important postvention component of suicide prevention: Results of a program evaluation. In International handbook of
clinical suicide research. Routledge Publishing.

2. Aguirre, R.T.P. (2013). Making connections: LOSS Team and other Active Postvention Models. Retrieved from

3. Aguirre, R.T.P. (2013). Initial outreach team: LOSS. In Pathways to Purpose & Hope. Sacramento, CA: Friends of Survival, Inc. Available at:

Project Impact:

  • Majority of those receiving LOSS Team outreach have accessed grief support services (support group and / or counseling) within a month of the death.

Our Tarrant County LOSS team is featured on the website of Frank Campbell who originated the LOSS Team concept on the early '90s in Baton Rouge. Read more here:

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Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) - Evaluating the Impact

Principal Investigator: Dr. Alexa Smith-Osborne
Community Partner: U.S. Army Reserves 807th Medical Command

Research Questions:

  • Will an Army Reserve unit which has a larger number of ASIST-trained peer counselors have lower levels of known risk factors for suicide measured three months after most recent unit training completion, compared to a unit which has fewer?
  • Will an Army Reserve unit which has a larger number of ASIST-trained peer counselors have a lower number of reported suicide attempts and identified suicide completions one year after most recent training completion, compared to a unit which has fewer peer trainers?

Project Description:
In response to the high rates of military suicides, the U.S. Army approved a service-wide training-the-trainers initiative for its leadership in a specific standardized suicide prevention model: the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). Previous evaluations found an increase in trainees’ knowledge, attitudes, and confidence levels relating to recognizing and taking steps to prevent suicide. This study aims to investigate the effect of this training on several direct measures of suicide risk among Reserve troops, including resilience, hopelessness, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and suicide completion. The study uses a quasi-experimental design with an experimental group which has received more training and a comparison group which has received less training.

Project Impact:

  • Younger age and lower training level were found to be significant predictors of hopelessness scores, associated with higher post-training hopelessness scores.
  • Older age and male gender were found to be significant predictors of higher post-training resilience scores, and were associated with the low training group, which was composed of significantly older and more male soldiers than the high training group.
  • During the study period, the low training group reported 0 suicide completions, 4 suicide attempts, and 23 soldiers experiencing suicidal thoughts, while the high training group had no known completions or attempts and 13 soldiers experiencing suicidal thoughts, a significant difference.
  • This pilot study demonstrated the utility of examining direct measures of suicide risk factors, in addition to the process measures which have been evaluated previously. Findings suggest the need for more research on the impact of targeting increased ASIST training to Reserve units which have higher demographic risk factors and on elucidation of the interactions between suicide risk factors, demographic risk groups, and resilience enhancement. Resilience-building programming is a current Army emphasis, but is being conducted independently of ASIST training and suicide risk monitoring protocols.

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