My clinical work complements my research program.  I have sought advanced training in Family-Based Treatment for Adolescent Eating Disorders, Motivational Interviewing and the Family Check-Up Program. Currently, I am one of the thirteen professionals credentialed in Canada as a Family Check-Up (FCU) Clinician. In this role and on a part-time basis, I provide the FCU preventative intervention to young children (aged 2-4 years) and their families. The FCU is an ecologically sensitive, evidence-based, targeted preventative intervention that was developed in the United States (US) and which engages families in a process of enhancing parenting practices to reduce emotional and behavioural problems and promote school readiness among children at risk.

There are three main components to the FCU. First, the family engages in a multi-method, multimodal assessment whereby the FCU clinician meets with the family to review their strengths and challenges across multiple domains of risk (caregiver wellbeing, child emotional and behavioural problems, family conflict, social support and fiscal resources). The assessment incorporates questionnaires, interviews and video-taped/coded parent-child interactions that occur over two sessions (approximately 45 minutes each), allowing the clinician and caregiver to identify caregiver strengths and challenges in relation to improving their parenting practices to support improvements in their child’s behaviour and well-being. Second, during a third feedback session (approximately 60-90 minutes in length), the FCU clinician engages the caregiver in a self-assessment of the FCU assessment experience and provides structured feedback from the assessment process in relation to caregiver, child, and family strengths and challenges. Third, at the completion of the feedback session, the FCU clinician uses their service expertise and motivational interviewing techniques to elicit caregiver identification of goals and a service plan that will support the caregiver’s parenting practices so as to improve their child’s emotional and behavioural challenges.

One service plan option is the caregiver’s participation in up to six sessions of the Everyday Parenting Curriculum (EDP). The EDP is an evidence-based intervention that was developed as adjunct sessions to follow the FCU feedback session. Informed by social learning theory, the EDP argues that the quality of the caregiver-child relationship, the use of positive behavioral supports, and the use of developmentally appropriate monitoring and limit setting are the pillars of healthy caregiver-child interactions; and therefore, positive emotional and behaviour adjustment among youth. Delivered by the FCU clinician, the number of EDP sessions delivered following the FCU feedback session is determined by the caregiver and is flexible to the caregiver’s need.

I am pleased to be a team member of the first and designated ‘hub’ for the implementation and evaluation of the FCU program in Canada; which is led by Dr. Teresa Bennett, a child psychiatrist at McMaster University. Dr. Bennett and her research team are currently recruiting caregivers of 2-4 year olds to participate in this study. For more information, please see the Offord Centre website! 


Dishion, T. J. & Stormshak, E.A. Intervening in children’s lives: A ecological, family-centred approach to mental health care. New York, NY: Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Dishion TJ, Kavanagh K. Intervening in adolescent problem behavior: A family-centered approach. New York, NY: Guilford Press; 2003.

Dishion TJ, Nelson SE, Kavanagh K. The Family Check-Up with high-risk young adolescents: Preventing early-onset substance use by parent monitoring. Behav Ther. Fal 2003;34(4):553-571.

Dishion TJ, Stormshak EA, Kavanagh K. Everyday Parenting: A professional’s guide to building family management skills. Champaign, IL: Research Press; 2012.

Van Ryzin MJ, Stormshak EA, Dishion TJ. Engaging parents in the family check-up in middle school: longitudinal effects on family conflict and problem behavior through the high school transition. The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine. Jun 2012;50(6):627-633.

Stormshak EA, Connell AM, Veronneau MH, et al. An ecological approach to promoting early adolescent mental health and social adaptation: family-centered intervention in public middle schools. Child Dev. Jan-Feb 2011;82(1):209-225.

Shaw DS, Dishion TJ, Supplee L, Gardner F, Arnds K. Randomized trial of a family-centered approach to the prevention of early conduct problems: 2-year effects of the family check-up in early childhood. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology. Feb 2006;74(1):1-9.

Fosco GM, Van Ryzin MJ, Connell AM, Stormshak EA. Preventing adolescent depression with the family check-up: Examining family conflict as a mechanism of change. Journal of family psychology : JFP : journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association. Feb 2016;30(1):82-92.