By ROB W. ANDERSON
People who work with children are often faced with making observations about behavior, and determining whether it’s a phase or the indicator of something more ominous.
A University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center psychological clinician was the featured speaker at a Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cherokee Country seminar Friday at Indian Capital Technology Center.
Dr. Michael Gomez practices at the OUHS Center on Child Abuse and Neglect/Child Study Center in Oklahoma City. The event was meant to provide CASA staff members and members of other agencies, including public schools, with the base-level skills and knowledge to help children and families in need.
“What I’m here today to do is give [child care providers and/or teachers] any type of rudimentary skill that [they] feel is helpful,” said Gomez. “For all CASA workers, if you see therapists doing [evidence-based] skills [like we’re discussing today], that’s what you want to see. If they’re missing a lot of these, that’s a big red flag. That means we’re farther away from the ball park of trauma-informed treatment. These [stress management skills that are being discussed today, like deep breathing and naturally calming activities], are skills that parents can use, too.”
The son of a social worker, Gomez has had experience working with children since legally becoming an adult.
“I’ve been working with kids in some capacity since I was 18,” he said. “My mom was a social worker. So I grew up around social workers, basically, and I thought I was going to be a social worker. So I did some things that were like social work, and then I got into the McNair Scholars Program and they said you should try becoming a psychologist. Then I built an interest in working with child trauma.”
Gomez’s clinical research and interests include child maltreatment, trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy, parent-child interaction therapy, disruptive behavior disorders, and acculturation in families. He currently works with the Jumpstart Clinic, which is a multi-disciplinary team that assesses for developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorders, and the Adolescents with Illegal Sexual Behaviors Program. Gomez is also a member of the training team for therapists learning TF-CBT and trauma-informed assessment in the State of Oklahoma through the Child Trauma Grant.
Gomez said a parent who may be doing research on a situation that involves their child before seeking clinical guidance can locate information on The National Child Traumatic Stress Network website, or www.nctsn.org, or can search for book titles like “Your Defiant Child: Eight Steps to Better Behavior” on Amazon.
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