Center of Excellence for Children, Families and the Law (CECFL)

Center of Excellence for children, families and the law

Providing Service and Training to Parents, Families, and Professionals

The Center of Excellence for Children, Families and the Law recognizes the life-changing decisions that are made when children and families come before Courts. The Center promotes multidisciplinary professional education, training and research to support informed professional practice, effective prevention and intervention, and thoughtful jurisprudence. The Center focuses on a variety of issues that affect children and families who are involved with the legal system including families in conflict, intimate partner violence, child maltreatment and neglect, divorce, juvenile justice and children with mental and educational disabilities. The Center is able to provide an array of services, including professional education, training and development; evaluation services; professional consultation to mental health providers, attorneys, judges, custody evaluators, parenting coordinators, court personnel and social service workers; psychoeducation for parents; advocacy and advocacy support and research.

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For information about programs, training, and consultation, please contact Dr. Jessica P. Greenwald O'Brien.

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Center of Excellence for Children, Families, and the Law has a longstanding commitment to welcome and serve our whole community. We offer all people high quality, culturally responsive services while honoring race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, age, sex and fluidity of gender, sexual orientation, disability, socio-economic, immigration, or veteran status. Our staff strives to support and protect all people in an atmosphere that respects differences of all kinds. We believe it is the responsibility of the Center's staff, partners, and clients to work toward greater inclusion, multiculturalism, racial justice, and equity.

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Dr. Jessica P. Greenwald O’Brien

Dr. O’Brien 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.