• Children, Families and the Law

    The Center of Excellence for Children, Families and the Law (CECFL) recognizes the life-changing decisions that are made when children and families come before Courts.

Certificate in Child and Family Forensics

The Certificate in Child and Family Forensics provides students with a solid foundation in the concepts, theories and practices in child and family forensic mental health work and will help professionals hone their skills and increase their knowledge to prepare them for work in child welfare, juvenile delinquency, sexual offending, domestic violence, divorce custody and post-divorce parenting contexts. The five courses include: Child Custody Evaluation, Intimate Partner Violence, Mental Health and Juvenile Justice , Child Maltreatment,  and Parenting Coordination. These courses will review the law and systems, describe and practice protocols for evaluations, and review empirically based best practices and interventions through in-depth didactic instruction and opportunities for practice and consultation.  

Each course is a blended learning format and spans 4 weeks of online coursework for 13 hours and 15 hours of on-site instruction over a weekend in residence. Each course is 28 hours and 28 Continuing Education Units. Courses are open to mental health professionals, attorneys, judges, mediators, court personnel and other professionals interested in child and family forensic issues. Students who choose four classes will obtain a Certificate in Child and Family Forensic Issues from William James College

Jessica P Greenwald OBrien PhD

Dr. Jessica P. Greenwald O’Brien is the Director of the Center of Excellence for Children, Families and the Law. She has practiced in the field of child and family forensic psychology for the past 25 years, in both the family and juvenile courts of Massachusetts. Her forensic evaluation practice with youth and families includes child custody, guardianship, relocation matters within the family courts and child welfare/child protection and delinquency matters in the juvenile court. She consults with attorneys and courts on topics of trauma and child maltreatment impacts on attachment, child development, intimate partner violence, parenting, delinquent behavior and risk, and mental health functioning of children and parents involved in the legal system. She teaches and trains other psychologists as well as legal professionals in the field. She serves on the certification committee of the Division of Forensic Mental Health for juvenile court clinicians, and mentors certification candidates.  Additionally, she has worked with teachers, school specialists, mental health professionals, and administrators to augment trauma-sensitivity in schools.

Dr. Greenwald O’Brien received an AB in psychology with honors at the University of Michigan and then earned her doctorate in clinical and forensic psychology at the University of Nebraska in 1993. Her post-doctoral training in trauma and family forensics took place through the Victims of Violence Program at The Cambridge Hospital and the Children and the Law Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, both of the Harvard Medical School.

2018-19 Course Schedule: