Opportunities for psychologists to enact community change through adverse childhood experiences, trauma, and resilience networks

Am Psychol. Feb-Mar 2021;76(2):379-390. doi: 10.1037/amp0000778.


A growing body of evidence on the inequitable distribution of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs; e.g., Merrick et al., 2018) and their impact throughout the life-course (e.g., Metzler et al., 2017) has highlighted the need to focus on their underlying causes (Ellis & Dietz, 2017). This increasing recognition of ACEs as a preventable public health problem (Bellis et al., 2019) with roots in the community environment has spurred collective responses (e.g., Srivastav et al., 2020), including the emergence of multisector, community-based networks organized to address ACEs and trauma and foster resilience, or "ATR networks" (Jones et al., 2017). ATR networks provide a platform for psychologists to contribute their theoretical, clinical, and research skills to community-level ACEs prevention and mitigation efforts collectively designed by a diverse group comprising professionals from a range of disciplines, advocates, grass-roots leaders, and community residents. Using evidence from an evaluation of Mobilizing Action for Resilient Communities, a recent multisite initiative of 14 ATR networks, this article describes the structure, operation, and accomplishments of these networks to make a case for the ways in which psychologists, working with other professionals and grassroots leaders, can contribute to these efforts. Findings highlight how sectors in which psychologists typically work, play pivotal roles in ATR networks, the ways in which network members in these sectors both influence and are influenced by the networks, and the types of outcomes achieved by the networks within these sectors. Suggestions are offered for the roles psychologists can play to enhance network efforts. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't