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David J. Hansen, Ph.D., Child Maltreatment Lab, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Pictured (Left to Right):
Brittany Biles, Jessie Pogue, Mary Fran Flood, David Hansen, Kelsey McCoy, Kate Theimer

Featured Lab

In this, the inaugural featured lab from among the many whose researchers, teachers, and students are exploring one or more areas of scientific and/or clinical interest, we’re pleased to showcase David Hansen’s Child Maltreatment Lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

UNL is no stranger to ABCT’s krieg lights, having been chosen as the most recent recipient of ABCT’s Outstanding Training Program, in 2013.

Let’s meet Dr. Hansen and the members of this lab.

David J. Hansen, Ph.D., Child Maltreatment Lab, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Dr. Hansen is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Clinical Psychology Training Program, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). The lab conducts mental health services, consultation, training, and research through the Family Interaction Skills Clinic (FISC) of the UNL Psychological Consultation Center. Dr. Mary Fran Flood, the Co-Director of FISC along with Dr. Hansen, contributes to all of the lab endeavors and leads the activities in Head Start settings.

The Child Maltreatment Lab conducts research across various forms of maltreatment, including sexual abuse, physical abuse, and neglect. Research efforts include development of assessments and interventions for victims and families, maltreatment prevention, and understanding the correlates and consequences of maltreatment. The lab has developed and is evaluating a model intervention program based in a Child Advocacy Center, Project SAFE (Sexual Abuse Family Education), which addresses the mental health needs of child victims and their families following sexual abuse. This effort also includes the development of assessment instruments for evaluating outcomes, such as a weekly problems scale for child victims and their parents, and measures for assessing parent and child expectations for child functioning following sexual abuse. Related projects examine the heterogeneous symptom presentation of child and adolescent sexual abuse victims and factors that influence symptom presentation. Research also addresses maltreatment prevention in Head Start home-based and center-based programs. The lab’s Head Start research investigates risk factors using an ecological model, explores relationships among risks and substantiated abuse and neglect, and examines the program’s ability to identify and reduce risk.

How do you stay current with developments in the field, both research and practice?

Reading relevant research literature and attending conferences (like ABCT!) are valuable means of staying current. Collaborations and interactions with faculty and graduate students about research and practice are also helpful for learning updates and broadening exposure to recent developments. Providing consultation and clinical services in community settings offer valuable opportunities to understand the translational issues of research developments (e.g., implementation in real-world settings, impacting policy at the organizational level). Regularly engaging in editorial activities for journals and professional publications, as an editor and reviewer, are useful for thoughtful consideration of a wide range of research, clinical, and professional issues. In addition, working in interdisciplinary teams and centers, including recent work as Director of the UNL Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior, provides tremendous opportunities for broadening exposure to research methods and the latest findings from related fields.

What conferences do you regularly attend and why?

The conference I attend most regularly is the ABCT annual convention. (For those who don’t recall, the acronym in the earlier years, when I started attending, was AABT.) I have attended and presented at the convention EVERY year since my fourth year as a graduate student in 1983. This November will be my 35th consecutive year! The annual ABCT convention is a terrific conference for keeping current with scientific approaches and issues in clinical psychology and the many advances in evidence-based practice.

I also regularly attend the annual conference of the Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology (CUDCP). As Director of our Clinical Psychology Training Program that conference is very helpful for staying current on training and professional issues, and the association also leads efforts to shape policies and practices that support evidence-based practice and integration of scientific and clinical training.

How long have you been a member of ABCT?

I became a student member in 1983 and a full member in 1985.

How has ABCT helped you professionally?

ABCT has provided a valuable network and opportunities for connecting with others in research, as well as professional issues (e.g., journal and editorial activities, clinical training issues). I appreciate being able to include and collaborate with students in these opportunities.

A concrete example of professional impact is that getting an interview for my first faculty job was aided by my attendance at an AABT convention during my internship year. I got a chance to meet some of the faculty at West Virginia University and I was later told that those interactions helped when the search committee was selecting one more person to interview!

How do you see the future of ABCT for both you and your students?

I expect that ABCT will continue be a leader in advancing and disseminating effective evidence-based approaches for assessment, intervention, and prevention, and that lab students and I will continue to participate in and benefit from ABCT’s many endeavors.

Are your students members of ABCT? If so, what has been most useful for them?

Student members of the lab are members of ABCT and regularly attend the ABCT convention. Lab members also participate in the ABCT Child Maltreatment and Interpersonal Violence Special Interest Group (CMIV SIG). Students benefit from the opportunity to network and share their research at the convention, and enjoy staying informed on a variety of research, training, and professional issues through the Behavior Therapist. The CMIV SIG provides the opportunity to connect and learn from others doing work in child maltreatment and provides opportunities for service and leadership. Alumni from the lab regularly attend the ABCT convention as well, so it is also a great place to catch up with friends and former colleagues!

For prospective students:

For more information about the UNL Child Maltreatment Lab please see our webpage at

Graduate student members of the lab are students in the UNL Clinical Psychology Training Program (UNL CPTP).

Details about the CPTP, including application information, can be found at

We look forward to recruiting students with interest in advancing clinical research and practice for addressing and preventing child maltreatment!

Jessie Pogue

1) What is your area of research interest?

My research interest is child sexual abuse (CSA) and more specifically how to identify children at highest risk for CSA.

2) How has ABCT been helpful to you?

ABCT has offered great networking opportunities with psychologists across the world.

3) If a student was thinking about joining ABCT, what activities would you recommend they get involved in?

I would recommend joining a Special Interest Group (SIG) that matches their interests to help them connect with others in the field.

Kelsey McCoy

1) What is your area of research interest?

My area of research interest is focused on factors associated with risk and resilience in maltreated children and the evaluation of early childhood intervention and prevention programs for at risk children and families.

2) How has ABCT been helpful to you?

ABCT helps me expand and maintain my professional network and exposes me to research areas outside of my own.

3) If a student was thinking about joining ABCT, what activities would you recommend they get involved in?

I recommend getting involved in a Special Interest Group (SIG), so that you have opportunities to interact with and learn from individuals that are within your field.

Kate Theimer

1) What is your area of research interest?

My research interest is child maltreatment, specifically child sexual abuse.

2) How has ABCT been helpful to you?

The ABCT convention is an excellent chance to network with others and a great way to disseminate my research projects.

3) If a student was thinking about joining ABCT, what activities would you recommend they get involved in?

I would recommend the student attend the annual convention and participate in a Special Interest Group (SIG) to get to know others with similar research interests.

Brittany Biles

1) What is your area of research interest?

I am interested in examining abuse attributions following child sexual abuse (e.g., self-blame, guilt), and the factors associated with these attributions, to further understand the heterogeneity of abuse outcomes and examine how interventions implemented at the level of abuse attributions influence outcomes.

2) How has ABCT been helpful to you?

The ABCT annual convention is great for sharing my own research and seeing others’ research within child maltreatment, as well as learning about other research I am not as familiar with from different fields.

3) If a student was thinking about joining ABCT, what activities would you recommend they get involved in?

The Child Maltreatment and Interpersonal Violence SIG and all of the activities associated with the SIG have been great for me because it is an excellent way to network with people within the field of child maltreatment.

UNL Child Maltreatment Lab

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