Violence Prevention for Adolescent Girls with Prior Maltreatment – GAIN (Girls Aspiring toward INdependence)

​Despite the strong empirical evidence that girls with histories of maltreatment are at greater risk than other adolescents of engaging in youth violence and interpersonal violence as adults, there are no reports of violence prevention programs tailored to this population.

The overarching aim of this research study is to advance knowledge of both trauma treatment and violence prevention by adapting an evidence-based approach, Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS), for the unique needs of adolescent girls with histories of maltreatment.

The GAIN Program
GAIN is a cognitive behavioral intervention for trauma for adolescent girls (ages 12 to 18) with histories of maltreatment and involvement in the child welfare system.
The GAIN intervention includes: a 10-session therapeutic group, 2 individual sessions and 2 caregiver sessions. GAIN group therapy sessions target:

Reduction of trauma symptoms through psycho-education about common reactions to trauma
Replacing maladaptive coping strategies with healthy coping skills
Reducing aggressive/violent behaviors, intentions, and beliefs by challenging negative thoughts
Increasing self-efficacy and social problem-solving skills by building peer support
Preventing future interpersonal violence and maltreatment by learning how to deal with real-life problems
For more information about the GAIN program, contact April Schutz, MSW, Project Coordinator, at (314) 935-3327 or

The Research Study

This study will use a randomized clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the 10-session cognitive behavioral therapy for trauma (GAIN group) for adolescent girls compared with a usual care group. The specific research aims of this study are:

Adapt the CBITS program for female adolescents with prior maltreatment (GAIN therapy group) that targets mental health problems as they relate to youth violence, sexual and drug risk behaviors, and future intimate partner violence
Using a randomized controlled design, implement GAIN with 125 adolescent girls compared with 125 girls who receive usual care
Conduct a process evaluation that will monitor treatment integrity through ratings of session content delivered, participants’ attendance, program relevance and satisfaction, and tracking comparison and experimental group adolescents to reduce study attrition
Conduct an outcome evaluation to compare the effectiveness of both conditions on primary outcomes such as trauma symptoms (PTSD, depression, internalizing and externalizing behaviors), problem-solving skills, and violence-related behaviors, intentions, beliefs, self-efficacy, and prevention knowledge

For more information about the research study, contact Wendy Auslander, PhD, Principal Investigator, at (314) 935-6634 or

Wendy Auslander, PhD

April Schutz, MSW

Penny Smith, MSW

GAIN Therapist, Children’s Advocacy Services
Amy Dribin, MS, PLPC

-Jerry Dunn, PhD
-Tonya Edmond,PhD
-Lisa Jaycox, PhD
-Melissa Jonson-Reid, PhD
-Doug Luke, PhD
-Sarah Myers, MSW
-Hollee McGinnis, MSW
-Evelyn Sharkey, BS

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis
Children’s Division of St. Louis City and County