Multidisciplinary partnership: Targeting aggression and mental health problems of adolescents in detention

Karey L. O'Hara, Jennifer E. Duchschere, Caroline E. Shanholtz, Samantha J. Reznik, Connie J. Beck, Erika Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Justice-involved adolescents meet diagnostic criteria for mental health disorders at much higher rates than their counterparts, and this increased risk persists into young adulthood (Abram et al., 2015; Teplin, Abram, McClelland, Dulcan, & Mericle, 2002). Despite growing recognition of this problem, there remains a dearth of adequate therapeutic services in juvenile detention and marked variation in the quality and availability of community-based services (Kretschmar, Butcher, Flannery, & Singer, 2016). This article presents the development of a multidisciplinary partnership among clinical research psychologists and court professionals to address aggressive behaviors and unmet mental health needs of adolescents in the juvenile justice system. We describe the early stages of collaboration, in which experts from disparate disciplines joined forces to address a mounting problem in the juvenile justice system that represented both a gap in the research-practice continuum and a lack of vital mental health resources in the local community. We delineate the team composition, outline key players' roles and contributions, and describe the principles that guided our collaboration across disciplines and agencies. We were effective in developing a sustainable multidisciplinary team, developing a new intervention, and implementing this new intervention in a challenging setting. The challenges we encountered throughout the process as well as the solutions that were generated and the lessons learned are discussed in detail. We discuss the substantive outcomes of our research and conclude with recommendations for readers interested in organizing similar academic-research/community partnerships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-342
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Intervention science
  • Juvenile justice
  • Mental health
  • Multidisciplinary research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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