Institute Vision & Mission

The George Hull Centre has invested in developing expertise in the area of trauma and attachment for over a decade and recently formed the Institute of Childhood Trauma and Attachment to further the knowledge in this area through three pillars: clinical practice, research, and knowledge dissemination.

Vision: Establish the George Hull Centre Institute for Childhood Trauma & Attachment as a provincial centre of expertise in the assessment and treatment of childhood trauma.

Mission: To elevate practice and improve access to services for traumatized children, their families, and communities through research, knowledge dissemination, and clinical practice.


Pillar One | Research

Research is one of the pillars of the Institute for Childhood Trauma & Attachment. Information gained through the Institute’s research undertakings are designed to drive changes in training, policy and practice to better serve traumatized children and youth.

The Institute is currently developing two trauma screening tools. One of them is the Child and Adolescent Screener for Traumatic Exposure and Response (CASTER®), a screening tool which allows trauma exposure and symptoms to be identified early in the assessment and treatment process. Establishing content validity of the tool is underway, in consultation with youth with lived experience, parents, children’s mental health clinicians, and professional experts in trauma treatment.

Once finalized and distributed, the CASTER® will help child and youth-serving sectors identify traumatic stress in presenting clients and allow for appropriate clinical and case-planning responses.

In addition, the Institute is conducting an exploration of trauma screening practices among speech and language practitioners and services. Speech and language issues are often the first sign of a developmental or mental health concerns in young children. Trauma experiences at this stage are critical to understand for early intervention but are often missed because of lack of systematic screening.   For this reason, the Institute is looking at modifications to of the CASTER® for parents of very young children who present to the George Hull Centre’s Speech and Language programs.

Pillar Two | Training / Knowledge Dissemination

As evidence builds that traumatic stress has a profound lifetime impact on the developing brains and bodies of children and youth, the need for trauma-informed training of child and youth-serving professionals is paramount. The Institute is pleased to be working with a variety of essential child and youth-serving sectors to further this important work. They include child welfare, early childhood education centres, daycares, children’s mental health, school boards, and the juvenile and family justice system.

The Institute is developing a broad range of training programs. All training has been developed to support the translation of knowledge from theory to practice. Trainings are customized to reflect the needs of the sectors being trained. Thus, trainees learn trauma-responsive skills for use in their particular discipline. 

In order to best meet the training needs of the staff/organization, the Institute begins with a thorough needs assessment of knowledge and skills among the staff being trained. A post-training evaluation is also completed to ensure that the organization was able to achieve the learning goals it identified. 

 The Institute continues to disseminate knowledge by hosting multiple workshops and conferences-

check out our Conferences and Workshops page to view upcoming learning opportunities. 

Pillar Three | Clinical Practice  

The Institute is engaged in several initiatives to elevate clinical practice for traumatized children and youth in multiple programs within and outside the George Hull Centre.    

All the clinical staff in both our outpatient and intensive programs (residential, day treatment and in home) have received training and ongoing consultation in Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy, a model of treatment for children who have experienced developmental trauma (often associated with physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect).  Staff from these programs have also received training in the assessment and treatment of other forms of trauma, as well as other evidence based models to treat these conditions (such as Watch, Wait and Wonder, Reflective Family Play, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy).  Staff receive ongoing education on the latest advances in neuroscience, the impact of adverse experiences on the brain and body, and empirically supported ways to support children and youth cope with traumatic stress.   

The Institute has supported the implementation of best practices across the George Hull Centre.  One such initiative has been the application of an earlier version of the Child and Adolescent Screener for Traumatic Exposure and Response (CASTER®) across all outpatient and intensive services (residential, day treatment and in-home treatment).  This tool, piloted for over a year, resulted in significantly more accurate assessments of the children and youth presenting for service and led to more focused and effective treatment of traumatic stress. The pilot phase also informed the research project on the CASTER®.

Finally, the Centre uniquely offers a multitude of options for treatment of traumatic stress provided with a range of modalities that include psychoeducational, individual, family based, and therapeutic group approaches.  The Institute specifically supports the development of innovative trauma specific programing at the Centre and evaluates the effectiveness of these programs with the continual goal of improving them. Nurturing Connections, for example, is a unique program for parents of children with developmental trauma to help them become better co-regulators of their children’s distress.  In addition, the Institute has partnered with the Toronto District Catholic School Board to develop a trauma informed Social Emotional Learning for grade 2 and 3 students.