About UCLA CARES

The UCLA Child Anxiety Resilience Education and Support (CARES) Center is an innovative center dedicated to supporting the development of resilient, emotionally healthy children. The Center is also focused on training, research, and community outreach to help clinicians, researchers, school staff, and parents recognize the early signs of childhood anxiety and support families in accessing resources to build family strengths and resilience.

Led by members of UCLA’s world-renowned mental health programs, the UCLA CARES Center is developing new and improved strategies to help children, parents, clinicians, and community members better engage with one another to reduce the burden of childhood anxiety.

Mission

At the UCLA CARES Center, our mission is to reduce the burden of childhood anxiety and enhance family and community resilience.

The UCLA CARES Center approach is multifaceted, and focuses on five specific areas:

Education and Prevention

To support prevention and early intervention with youth, families, schools, and communities through increased recognition and understanding of childhood anxiety

Training

To promote a new generation of clinicians and scientists devoted to advancing the health and resilience of families affected by stress and anxiety

Innovation

To foster the development of innovative and emerging technologies focused on supporting children who are dealing with anxiety and their families, and to find new and effective methods of education, training, and intervention

Research

To develop, test, and disseminate new school- and community-based strategies for reducing stress and enhancing resilience among children

Public Awareness and Advocacy

To promote, through policy, awareness campaigns, and advocacy, a new standard of best practices in schools, local communities, and other systems of healthcare built from evidence-based, family-centered anxiety prevention research

Meet the CARES Team

John Piacentini, PhD

Director

Dr. Piacentini is a board-certified clinical child and adolescent psychologist whose works focuses on the development and testing of effective treatments for childhood anxiety and related disorders. Dr. Piacentini has played a lead role in several major treatment studies for these disorders and has published over 240 research papers, many in leading medical journals, chapters and books. In addition to his role as the Director of the UCLA CARES Center, Dr. Piacentini is Professor in the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Director of the UCLA Child OCD, Anxiety, and Tic Disorders. He has a long history of child and family advocacy and serves on Boards for several organizations, including, nationally, the Anxiety Depression Association of America, the International OCD Foundation, the Tourette Syndrome Association Behavioral Sciences Consortium (Chair), the Trichotillomania Learning Center, the American Board of Professional Psychology, and, locally, the Santa Monica Malibu Education Foundation (Vice-President). In addition, he is also current President of the Society for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.

Patricia Lester, MD

Co-Director

A board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr. Lester has sustained a career-long focus on developing and disseminating preventive interventions, practices, and policies that support child and family resilience in the context of trauma and adversity. Her research and leadership has focused on the study of translational and implementation processes needed to bring evidence-based prevention to scale within systems of care and community settings. In addition to her role as the Co-Director of the UCLA CARES Center, Dr. Lester is the Jane and Marc Nathanson Family professor of psychiatry in the Division of Population Behavioral Health and director of the Division of Population Behavioral Health. She also serves as the director of the Nathanson Family Resilience Center, medical director of the Family Stress, Trauma and Resilience Service (STAR), director of the DMH + UCLA Prevention Center of Excellence, and is on the founding leadership team for the Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families.

Kate Sheehan, LCSW

Managing Director

Ms. Sheehan is a licensed clinical social worker and the Managing Director for the CARES Center. She previously worked at the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA with children, adolescents, and their families, and she led crisis intervention and prevention education efforts at the Santa Monica UCLA Rape Treatment Center. Her areas of expertise include attachment difficulties, trauma, depression, and eating disorders in addition to anxiety. She earned an MSW from Columbia University. She also holds an MA in Comparative Literature from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. She graduated with highest honors from the Sorbonne, and she is fluent in French though less fluent in Spanish. A practitioner of meditation, she has also had a yoga practice since toddlerhood when she was taught by her grandmother.

Catherine Mogil, PsyD

Staff Psychologist

Dr. Mogil has spent her career working with children of all developmental stages. She has been involved in several intervention development and translational research projects examining the efficacy of parent-assisted interventions for infants and toddlers in foster care, school-aged children with developmental disabilities, and adolescents with Autism Spectrum and other disorders. Dr. Mogil is a licensed clinical psychologist and Assistant Clinical Professor at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior in the David Geffen School of Medicine. In addition to her work at the UCLA CARES Center, Dr. Mogil serves as the Director of Training and Intervention Development for the Nathanson Family Resilience Center and the UCLA Division of Population Behavioral Health. She is also the Director of the Family Development Project and the Co-Director of the Child and Family Trauma Service. She is certified in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities.

Anna Alkozei, PhD

Clinical Psychology Intern

Anna is a current Clinical Psychology Intern at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. She holds a PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom and is currently completing a Clinical Psychology Re-Specialization at the University of Arizona. Anna is passionate about sharing evidence-based interventions for psychological disorders with the wider community to strengthen youth resilience and emotional flexibility.

Ashley Johnson, MS

Director of Communications

Ms. Johnson is the Director of Communications for the UCLA CARES Center, UCLA Nathanson Family Resilience Center, and the UCLA Division of Population Behavioral Health.

Valerie Sommer

Communications Specialist

Valerie is a communications specialist with the UCLA CARES Center. Valerie graduated from UCLA with a BS in Psychobiology. She also serves as communications specialist for the UCLA Division of Population Behavioral Health.

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Partnerships

The UCLA CARES Center would like to thank our partners for their support!

UCLA Childhood OCD, Anxiety & Tic Disorders Program

The UCLA Childhood OCD, Anxiety & Tic Disorders Program is a clinical research program that specializes in the evaluation and treatment of anxiety and related problems in children and adolescents. The program’s primary goal is to provide effective treatments for youngsters suffering from anxiety disorders, including Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Selective Mutism (SM), Tic disorders, Social Phobia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD), and Trichotillomania.

UCLA Nathanson Family Resilience Center (NFRC)

The UCLA Nathanson Family Resilience Center (NFRC) bridges the gap between research and practice to help families become stronger in the face of challenges. Working with communities and systems of care, the center develops and evaluates high-quality, preventive services that support family relationships and child development. The UCLA NFRC also provides training to bring evidence-based, family-centered programs to agencies and community providers. Their programs and services support Military and Veteran families, new parents, at-risk adolescents, and families impacted by stress, trauma, or grief. FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress) is a resilience-building program of the UCLA NFRC.

DMH + UCLA Prevention Center of Excellence

Created in 2018, the DMH + UCLA Prevention Center of Excellence (COE) is committed to improving the wellbeing of Los Angeles County by creating a robust continuum of workforce development programs. Its offerings aim to support the development and sustainment of prevention networks that are both trauma and resilience informed. Through guided learning, collaborative learning communities, evidence-based trainings, consultation, coaching, and technical assistance, the COE engages the Los Angeles County workforce in creating stigma-free environments, enhancing employee skill sets, and promoting wellbeing of peer and professional providers. It harnesses extensive expertise from the Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, as well as other campus-wide partnerships. The COE serves providers across Los Angeles County who support the wellbeing of children, families, and adults.

UCLA Family Stress, Trauma, and Resilience (STAR) Clinic

The UCLA Family STAR Clinic provides evaluation, consultation, prevention, and treatment services for children and family members affected by trauma and other challenging events, including medical illness, traumatic loss, community violence, disasters, and combat deployment stress. Comprised of a team of psychiatrists and psychologists specializing in children and adolescents, the clinic provides expertise in child and family traumatic stress care for children of all ages and their family members, as well as educational resources and training for UCLA Child Psychiatry Fellows and Psychology Interns.

UCLA Lab School

UCLA Lab School is an innovative school for children and a laboratory for teachers and researchers. The practices developed and refined here have an impact on K-12 education around the world. Inside the classroom, the process starts with a curriculum aligned with state and national standards. The teacher listens to students and guides their experiences to incorporate the children’s interests and respond to their learning needs. As the children learn and explore, they represent their understanding in a variety of ways, helping the teacher find new opportunities to guide the process further.

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)

Second largest in the nation, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) enrolls more than 640,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, at over 900 schools, and 187 public charter schools. The boundaries spread over 720 square miles and include the mega-city of Los Angeles as well as all or part of 31 smaller municipalities plus several unincorporated sections of Southern California.

Tarjan Center at UCLA

A University Center for Excellence in Disabilities Education, Research and Service The Tarjan Center is a catalyst for collaboration, innovation, and systems change to advance the self -determination and inclusion of all people with disabilities. The Center serves as a bridge between the resources of the university and local, state, and international organizations, agencies, policy makers, people with disabilities and their families.

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