Theresa S. Betancourt, ScD, MA, is a Professor in the Boston College School of Social Work and Director of the Research Program on Children and Adversity (RPCA). Her central research interests include the developmental and psychosocial consequences of concentrated adversity on children, youth and families; resilience and protective processes in child and adolescent mental health and child development; refugee families; and applied cross-cultural mental health research. She is Principal Investigator of an intergenerational study of war/prospective longitudinal study of war-affected youth in Sierra Leone (LSWAY). This research led to the development of a group mental health intervention for war-affected youth that demonstrated effectiveness for improving emotion regulation, daily functioning and school functioning in war-affected youth. This intervention, the Youth Readiness Intervention (YRI), is now at the core of a scale-up study within youth employment programs now underway in collaboration with the World Bank and Government of Sierra Leone as a part of the NIMH-funded Mental Health Services and Implementation Science Research Hub called Youth FORWARD.
Dr. Betancourt has also developed and evaluated the impact of a Family Strengthening Intervention for HIV-affected children and families and is leading the investigation of a home-visiting early childhood development (ECD) intervention to promote enriched parent-child relationships and prevent violence that can be integrated within poverty reduction/social protection initiatives in Rwanda. Domestically, she is engaged in community-based participatory research on family-based prevention of emotional and behavioral problems in refugee children and adolescents resettled in the U.S. She has written extensively on mental health and resilience in children facing adversity including recent articles in Child Development, The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Social Science and Medicine, JAMA Psychiatry, AJPH and PLOS One. Her work has been profiled in the New Yorker, National Geographic, NPR, CNN.com and in an interview with Larry King on the program PoliticKing.