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Breaking the Cycle: Refining the Trauma-Informed Clinical Ethnographic Narrative Interview (CENI)

The project: In 2016, over 9,700 family households across Michigan, accounting for 24,766 people, entered an emergency shelter due to homelessness. The majority of these households were headed by a single female with one or two children under 11 years of age. Prior research has demonstrated that more than 90% of mothers who become homeless have significant histories of childhood trauma, as well as episodes of domestic violence and victimization in adult years. This project expanded upon an existing evidence-based intervention developed by a team from the University of Michigan School of Nursing and the Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS) in Detroit, which has been used with women to help them disclose and make meaning of traumatic life experiences as well as seek help.

The process: The research team worked closely with COTS, an agency that provides emergency, transitional, and permanent supportive housing services to families, to better understand the life events and needs of their clients through use of a Clinical Ethnographic Narrative Interview (CENI). This project refined and adapted the existing CENI approach to better align with the needs and preferences of COTS and its clients, while maintaining the scientific and theoretical underpinnings of the intervention. 

Results: Researchers made revisions to CENI, including adding more positive words and phrases to a set of options presented when asking women to describe their experiences. Field testing revealed that this change resulted in a more positive interview experience overall.

Laura E. Gultekin, University of Michigan School of Nursing
Barbara L. Brush, University of Michigan School of Nursing
Denise Saint Arnault, University of Michigan School of Nursing
Delphia Simmons, Coalition on Temporary Shelter
Richard Bryce, Community Health and Social Services Center (CHASS)
Sharon Lapides, SOS Community Services
Kathleen Durkin, University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry