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Senator Arlen Specter announced $100,000 worth of federal funding through the Department of Health and Human Services: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) for a program of the Seton Hill University Center for Family Therapy at a press conference at Seton Hill on Wednesday, August 30.

The Seton Hill University Center for Family Therapy in downtown Greensburg, Pa. will use the funding to support The Youth Development Project, a cognitive-behavioral therapy program to assess drug and alcohol use, and attitudes about drug and alcohol use among adolescents in Westmoreland County, in an effort to understand the causes and preventative measures necessary to address substance abuse. Eligible participants in the study include families with youth that have been adjudicated in county courts on drug and/or alcohol charges, referred through the schools or other social service agencies. Therapy will be provided by specially trained and supervised graduate students enrolled in the University’s Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy program through the Center for Family Therapy, which presently serves families and youth in Greensburg and the surrounding region. The University will work with a variety of county courts, correction systems, schools, and social service agencies in delivering this program.

“Seton Hill’s Marriage and Family Therapy program is very grateful to Senator Specter for his support of our mission to provide high quality and needed services to our community as we train the hearts and minds of marriage and family therapists to serve the diverse families of our future,” says Dr. Susan R. Cooley, Marriage and Family Therapy Program Director. “This research study headed by Dr. Alvaro Barriga [Seton Hill associate professor of psychology] is unique in its inclusion of the family throughout the protocol. Families are a major influence in shaping the value systems of youth while serving as a crucial counter balance to peer pressure among adolescents regarding behaviors like drug, alcohol, and even tobacco use. Through this research we aim to learn more about which attitudes and family interactions can be causal of problematic drug and alcohol use and which serve as preventive measures.”

The Seton Hill University Center for Family Therapy, located at 41 Otterman Street in the Stark and James Building in downtown Greensburg, promotes the use of family therapy as an alternative to potential incarceration by including the family to address issues leading to problematic drug and alcohol use. Seton Hill makes services available through the Center to youth and their families confronting a wide variety of life issues. The Center provides a sliding scale fee structure that makes its services affordable to all clients. Outcomes-based research conducted through the Center makes an important contribution to understanding best practices in the prevention and treatment of troubled behaviors among children, adolescents, and their families.