Trauma-informed mock trial program wins innovative teaching award

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Trauma-informed mock trial program wins innovative teaching award

Reported by: Laurie Anderson, sswpr@uga.edu

Athens, Ga. – Two University of Georgia faculty members who designed a model for teaching trauma-informed courtroom practices to social work and law students have won the 2018 SAGE Publishing/CSWE Award for Innovative Teaching in Social Work Education. The award is given annually by the Council on Social Work Education.

Jennifer Elkins, associate professor in the UGA School of Social Work, and Emma Hetherington, assistant clinical professor in the UGA School of Law and director of the Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation (CEASE) Clinic, developed a model for a course which integrated classroom lessons with a mock trial simulation. The course aims to demonstrate how to more effectively advocate for and represent child welfare-involved children and families within the juvenile court system.

The course is the first in Georgia to give social work graduate students and law students exposure to a juvenile court case simulation that incorporates interprofessional practices designed to recognize and prevent trauma. In addition to classroom reading material, Elkins and Hetherington also arranged for legal and social work professionals to present guest lectures. The professionals included child and parent attorneys, a juvenile court judge, a caseworker, a forensic interviewer and clinical social workers. The course is part of the Wilbanks CEASE Clinic, which provides direct representation to survivors of child sexual abuse in juvenile court and also serves as a teaching center at the University of Georgia School of Law. 

Law students learned how to more effectively use expert witnesses to advocate for their clients and received training to allow them to better understand trauma-specific interventions, therapy and concepts,” wrote Elkins and Hetherington in their project summary. “Master of Social Work students learned how to clearly articulate and communicate in court about the impact of trauma and the dynamics of sexual abuse and domestic violence as well as trauma-informed and trauma-specific practices.”

Elkins and Hetherington will accept the award on Friday, November 9, at the CSWE Annual Public Meeting in Orlando, Florida. For details visit http://bit.ly/CSWE2018InnovativeTeaching. To learn more about the program, visit https://t.uga.edu/4jw.

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