Health Opportunity for Mother and Child Emotion Function (HOME)

Based on Research Conducted at OSLC

Project HOME will develop and pilot an emotion-focused intervention to support incarcerate mothers as they leave prison and reunite with their children in the community

Project Overview

The substantial number of parents incarcerated in the criminal justice system has resulted in increased attention to the enormous challenges faced by their children, now numbering over two million. Risk factors associated with incarceration include disruption of parent-child relationships, transitions in living arrangements, financial and other stressors on caregivers, emotional distress, and increased likelihood of behavioral and emotional disorders. Though there is evidence that the impact of parent criminality on child maladjustment can be mediated by parenting practices, there are few programs to promote positive parenting or support the reunification of incarcerated parents and their children after prison. The goals of this project are to develop and pilot a translational multimodal emotion-focused intervention program to improve mothers’ and children’s emotion regulation as well as mothers’ emotion coaching skills in order to facilitate a successful family reunification and promote positive adjustment in a vulnerable population of children.

Year Project Began: 2008
Funder: National Institute of Mental Health

Principal Investigator

Joann Wu Shortt, Ph.D.

Senior Research Scientist
Oregon Social Learning Center

Active Research Projects

Primary Research and Clinical Interests

Dr. Shortt received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington. She investigates how family and friend relationships including siblings and couples shape our development across the life span. Her research focuses on emotion processes such as emotion regulation and emotion socialization, and she built a psychophysiological lab at OSLC to observe physiological regulation during dyadic interaction. Her work has involved observational methodology to understand interactional processes and mechanisms at work in predicting intimate partner violence (IPV), relationship outcomes, and child/adolescent/adult psychopathology. Shortt has been a co-investigator on the Oregon Youth Study Couples Project for over 10 years, and recently completed Project Home, a NIMH-funded cross-site study that developed an emotion-focused parenting intervention for incarcerated mothers reuniting with their children to promote emotion regulation and emotion-coaching skills.

Q&A with Joann Wu Shortt

How long have you been at OSLC?  What were you doing before you joined OSLC?

I was a graduate student of John Gottman at the University of Washington before joining OSLC as a postdoc. I became a scientist at OSLC in 2000.

What was your very first OSLC project?

I initially collaborated with Lew Bank and John Reid and then Deborah Capaldi on the Oregon Youth Study and Oregon Youth Study-Couples Study at OSLC. These projects provided an incredible foundation for my first grant.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on a new grant funded by the National Institute of Justice to predict IPV in the romantic relationships of lower socioeconomic young men and women, originally recruited for the Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT) Study. I also collaborate with colleagues to disseminate findings from other datasets.

What’s your favorite thing/what do you like best about the current project?

Working with long time collaborators Deborah Capaldi at OSLC and Mark Eddy now at University of Washington and more recent collaborators Sabina Low at Arizona State University and Stacey Tiberio at OSLC. We are excited about the outstanding 15+ year extant LIFT dataset and the unique opportunity to examine the longitudinal associations between risk factors in childhood and adolescence and IPV in young adulthood.

What is the impact of your current project for children, families, and communities?

IPV is a complex and significant public health problem due to its high prevalence, adverse physical and mental health consequences, and role as a precursor to future violence. The current project increases the knowledge on empirically supported models of risk factors needed to develop effective IPV prevention programs. Specifying the predictors of IPV in childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood can yield highly specific behavioral targets for treatment programs and inform the developmental timing and tailoring of interventions for various public health problems, including IPV.

What do you like best about what you do?

Working with ideas and data, and conducting research that has public health significance and the potential to decrease the impact of risk factors such as IPV on the development of young people.

What’s your next project?

I became enormously interested in aging when I taught Life Span Development for UO Counseling Psychology, and noted that more is known about the early end of the life span than the end and the lack of longitudinal studies in later life. I am pursuing funding to follow the Oregon Youth Study parents as they age.

In my spare time, I practice yoga, including as a volunteer yoga teacher through the Delivering Accessible Yoga Alternatives (DAYA) Program at Looking Glass’s residential Intensive Treatment Services and Pathway Girls Program.

Something few people know about me is that I play the violin with friends in a string quartet called Coda.