Clinical child psychologist joins Network on Child Protection and Well-Being

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Brian Allen is looking forward to building Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital’s TLC (Transforming the Lives of Children) Clinic from the ground up, relying on evidence-based practices as its foundation.

Allen joined Penn State’s Network on Child Protection and Well-Being in June as the sixth of at least 12 new co-funded faculty hires. In addition to his work as director of mental health services within the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children, Allen serves as an assistant professor of pediatrics, specializing in researching child abuse and trauma. 

“I can’t think of any other university that has committed such significant resources to address child abuse and trauma,” Allen said. “It’s a very exciting opportunity to advance clinical practice and research in ways that are not possible anywhere else.”

One of Allen’s primary areas of interest is the dissemination of evidence-based treatments. He said there can be many road blocks for clinicians who want to implement these treatments properly -- or at all. Allen’s goals are to raise awareness of the importance of using treatments that have been carefully studied to document their effectiveness, and to support clinicians in their efforts to implement them.

“These programs and practices have been validated in clinical trials and yet we continue to investigate ways to enhance their effectiveness,” he said. “Some practitioners may not be aware of what’s available or may be reluctant to adopt new approaches.”

“I can’t think of any other university that has committed such significant resources to address child abuse and trauma.”

-- Brian Allen, director of mental health services within the Penn State Hershey Center for the Protection of Children

Other areas of Allen’s research include the impact of trauma on children and their development into adolescence and adulthood. Research shows, for example, that trauma can have serious and long-term effects on children, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Allen also studies children who experience sexual-behavior problems.

“Twelve percent of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by other children,” he said. “A lot of times, these children don’t receive proper treatment or the issue is not taken seriously. We have ways to effectively treat and reduce sexual-behavior problems in children.”

Many of these treatments and related research will occur at the TLC Clinic. Allen hopes the TLC’s services will reach children across the central Pennsylvania region. The Clinic is scheduled to open on October 1. He said TLC's initial goals are to provide evidence-based treatment programs, find ways to treat children regardless of ability to pay, and serve as a setting for research that will advance knowledge of best practices for helping victims of child maltreatment and their families.

Allen comes to Penn State from Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he served as a clinical psychologist at the Center for Safe and Healthy Families. He received his Psy.D. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and completed a doctoral internship at the University of California, Davis, Children’s Hospital and a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Center for Child Traumatic Stress at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Allen joins Lori Frasier, professor of pediatrics and division chief of child abuse pediatrics; Kent Hymel, child abuse pediatrician; Jennie Noll, professor of human development and family studies and director of research and education for the Network; Idan Shalev, assistant professor of biobehavioral health; and Chad Shenk, assistant professor of human development and family studiesa who are all part of the Network’s cluster hire. Together and in collaboration with other faculty members at Penn State whose research focuses on children, youth and families, the Network faculty will work to produce new knowledge on the causes and consequences of child maltreatment and effective approaches to its prevention, detection and treatment.

More information about the Network on Child Protection and Well-Being is available at http://protecthildren.psu.edu.

Contacts: 

Jonathan F. McVerry

Work Phone: 
814-865-7011

Communications Manager
Network on Child Protection and Well-Being
Social Science Research Institute

Margaret N. Gray

Work Phone: 
814-867-4061

Director of Policy and Administration
Network on Child Protection and Well-Being

Assistant Director
Social Science Research Institute

Last Updated July 17, 2014