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How the HURT to HOPE Program Evolved

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The development of preventative programs for children adjusting to their parents’ divorce was initiated in 1979 by Guerney and Jordan, and in 1980 by Effron.  These pilot schemes lead to positive clinical impressions, but were not adequately evaluated to provide validated results.  Kalter, Pickar and Lesowitz (1984) developed a school-based program to facilitate children’s adjustment, and Stolberg, Cullen and Garrison (1982, 1985) developed the Divorce Adjustment Program (DAP) for children between the ages of eight and thirteen years.  The DAP was part of a larger Divorce Adjustment project that included parents.  Within this project clients were assigned to one of four conditions: a ‘child only’ intervention; a ‘parent only‘ intervention; a ‘child and parent‘ simultaneous intervention; and a ‘no treatment‘ control group.  Results indicated that ‘child only‘ interventions facilitated the best post-divorce adjustment in children.

My own subsequent results (Young, 1997) indicate that the reason for this may be that intervening in too many parts of the family system, i.e. children and parents, at the same time, is overwhelming.  It has been my experience and recommendation for intervention to take place in the most vulnerable part of the family system first, this is usually with the children, and thereafter, while the children are consolidating their own adaptation, to continue to support the family in this transition by intervening with parents next: helping them to facilitate their own personal and emotional adjustment, as well as helping them to learn more advanced parenting skills.

It was upon the DAP findings that Pedro-Carroll and Cowen initiated the development and assessment of the Children of Divorce Intervention Program (CODIP) in 1985.  I adjusted this program to include pre-program assessments and parent meetings, as well as voluntary mid-program and end-of-program meetings for parents wanting to better facilitate the life skills their children were learning in the program.  I re-named the program HURT to HOPE.  Another add-on to the program is for children to continue as a group in a more self-directed way after having participated in the initial 13-weeks of the more structured HURT to HOPE program.  In the follow-up, ongoing group children have chosen to discuss topics like ‘betrayal‘, ‘how do you know when someone really likes you or if they just want to be friends?‘, ‘lYing and stealing’, ‘what you like about yourself’, ‘annoying siblings’, ‘conflicts in friendships’ and many other topics that are pertinent to children continuing to deal with divorce-related, and normal, life issues.  The group offers them a nurturing ‘safe place’ in which to prepare for adolescence.



Guerney, L. & Jordan, L.  (1979).  Children of Divorce: A community support group.  Journal of Divorce, 2, 283-294. Effron, A. (1980).  Children and divorce: Help from an elementary school.  Scoail Casework: The Journal of Contemporary Social Work, 2, 305-312. Kalter, N., Pickar, J. & Lesowitz, M.  (1984).  School-based developmental facilitation groups for children of divorce: A preventative intervention>  American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 54, 613-623. Stolberg, A.L., Cullen, P.M., & Garrison, K.M.  (1982).  Divorce Adjustment Project: Preventative programming for children of divorce.  Journal of Preventative Psychiatry, 1, 365 368. Stolberg, A.L., Cullen, P.M., & Garrison, K.M.  (1985).  Evaluating a primary prevention program for children of divorce: The Divorce Adjustment Project.  American Journal of Community Psychology, 13, 111-124. Pedro-Carroll, J. L. & Cowen, E.L. (1985).  The Children of Divorce Intervention Program: An investigation of the efficacy of a school-based intervention program.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 53, 603-611