Dr. Jennifer Middleton

Assistant Professor

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Dr. Jennifer Middleton’s research, teaching, and service activities all focus on partnering with communities to develop trauma-informed approaches to working with children and families impacted by trauma, substance abuse, and other adverse childhood experiences.  In addition, her collaborative efforts aim to address the cumulative impact of working with traumatized populations on the professionals and organizations who serve them.

Specifically, Dr. Middleton’s substantive area of research is trauma-informed child welfare and forensic social work, with special emphasis placed on organizational health and transformational leadership as it relates to vicarious trauma and job retention.  She is involved with multiple interdisciplinary research projects examining the impact of trauma-informed organizational change interventions within refugee, Tribal, and rural community contexts.  Currently, Dr. Middleton serves as the lead researcher and co-director of evaluation for the Linking Project, a $3.9M, 5-year grant, funded by the U.S. Children’s Bureau (Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services), which aims to improve the safety, permanency, and wellbeing of substance-exposed babies in rural Maine.  Dr. Middleton’s other funded research projects include the evaluation of the first-ever sex trafficking safe house program in rural Maine, a longitudinal study of a trauma-informed organizational change intervention for refugee service providers in Michigan, the implementation of a trauma-informed organizational change intervention and its impact on a school of social work, and a qualitative study of the impact of vicarious trauma on forensic interviewing professionals.

At the University of Louisville, Dr. Middleton teaches graduate level courses, promoting the tenets of evidenced-based, trauma-informed social work in the Social Work Practice and Field Practicum curricula.  She also facilitates trauma-informed workshops for community partners regarding secondary trauma, compassion fatigue, and self-care.