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Compassion Starts with Understanding

Tanager Place Research Center

For more info, contact:

Teresa Kurtz

Director Community Outreach & Research


Our Research Partners:

In 2012, Tanager Place launched the Research Center with a mission to facilitate research that helps us better understand the mental health needs of children. The Tanager Place Research Center is a collaboration between five local academic institutions, and is the only one of its kind in the Midwest.

Our outcomes and collaborative research studies—funded by generous private donations—have the potential to directly impact clinical practice and policy. A few of our recent studies include:

Enhancing Behavior Through Play Therapy 

University of Iowa’s Dr. Volker Thomas joined a team from Tanager Place Clinic to conduct a family-based intervention called Filial Therapy, which integrates proven play therapy techniques to enhance child behavior and build strong child-parent relationships. Research could impact best practices for children and their families struggling with mental illness.

The Biology of Eating Disorders 

Estimates indicate nearly 10% of adolescent women deal with symptoms of eating disorders, and many suffer consequences that lead to serious medical complications. Dr. Melinda Green, Associate Professor of Psychology at Cornell College, leads a study to increase the effectiveness of prevention programs and gain a better understanding of bio-indicators that identify a high risk factor of the onset of eating disorders. Results have the potential to greatly benefit adolescents and their families by updating treatment approaches and conceptual models of binge/purge behaviors.

The Impact of Trauma on Caregivers

Dr. Jacob Christensen, Mount Mercy University, and graduate student Nicole Brighton are working to determine if a link exists between a caregiver’s traumatic experiences and their relationship to children. The findings will help behavioral health professionals design treatments for families who have experienced trauma. Results will break damaging behavioral cycles often caused by trauma such as abuse, imprisonment and substance abuse, and will increase opportunities for healing.