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Robin Gurwitch, PhD

Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Child & Family Mental Health & Community Psychiatry

Dr. Robin Gurwitch, a faculty member in the Duke University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Center for Child and Family Health, is a recognized expert in understanding and supporting children in the aftermath of trauma and disasters. She received her doctorate in Clinical/Medical Psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, completed her internship in Pediatric Psychology at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago and completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychology at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, Dr. Gurwitch has focused much of her clinical work, training and research on improving the outcomes and increasing resilience in children who have experienced trauma or crisis events, including terrorism, natural disasters and stressors related to military deployment. She has served on state and national committees and task forces including the National Commission on Children and Disasters Subcommittee on Human Services Recovery and served as a subject-matter expert in the area of at-risk populations for the Disaster Mental Health Subcommittee of the National Bio-Defense Science Board for the Pediatric Preparedness and Response in Public Health Emergencies and Disasters for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (DHHS/ASPR). She is a member of the American Psychological Association’s Disaster Response Network and provides expertise on children and disasters/terrorism for the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). She was recently appointed to the HHS National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters.

A prolific writer and educator, Dr. Gurwitch has co-authored book chapters, scientific journal articles and public education materials on the topics of trauma, resilience, psychological first aid, terrorism, disasters and preparedness. She authored a trauma treatment manual for use following disasters for children and adolescents. Dr. Gurwitch regularly presents on topics related to her specialty area at regional, national and international conferences. An active volunteer of the American Red Cross, she worked with the American Red Cross to develop materials related to terrorism and disaster for use in disaster mental health training courses and for use in schools.

A caring clinician, Dr. Gurwitch has been involved in direct care following national and international disasters.  She has been an active member of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network since it began in 2001.  

Education and Training

  • Ph.D., University of Alabama Birmingham, 1988


Scott, Becky, Robin H. Gurwitch, Erica Pearl Messer, Lance P. Kelley, Dennis R. Myers, and J Kenneth Young. “Integrated CARE: Adaptation of Child-Adult Relationship Enhancement (CARE) Model for Use in Integrated Behavioral Pediatric Care.” Clinical Pediatrics 60, no. 2 (February 2021): 100–108.

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Gurwitch, Robin H., Hanan Salem, Melanie M. Nelson, and Jonathan S. Comer. “Leveraging parent-child interaction therapy and telehealth capacities to address the unique needs of young children during the COVID-19 public health crisis.” Psychol Trauma 12, no. S1 (August 2020): S82–84.

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Chase, R. M., K. A. Carmody, M. Lent, R. Murphy, L. Amaya-Jackson, E. Wray, G. S. Ake, et al. “Disseminating parent-child interaction therapy through the learning collaborative model on the adoption and implementation of an evidence-based treatment.” Children and Youth Services Review 101 (June 1, 2019): 131–41.

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Gurwitch, R. H., M. M. Nelson, and J. P. Abner. “Child-adult relationship enhancement for children with autism spectrum disorders: CARE connections.” In Handbook of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy for Children on the Autism Spectrum, 321–38, 2019.

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Gurwitch, R. H., and E. P. Messer. “Parent-child interaction therapy for military families: Improving relationships.” In Handbook of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy: Innovations and Applications for Research and Practice, 71–84, 2018.

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Messer, E. P., M. V. Greiner, S. J. Beal, E. A. Eismann, A. Cassedy, R. H. Gurwitch, B. W. Boat, et al. “Child adult relationship enhancement (CARE): A brief, skills-building training for foster caregivers to increase positive parenting practices.” Children and Youth Services Review 90 (July 1, 2018): 74–82.

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Gurwitch, R. H., E. P. Messer, and B. W. Funderburk. “Parent-child interaction therapy.” In Evidence-Based Treatments for Trauma Related Disorders in Children and Adolescents, 341–61, 2017.

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Gurwitch, Robin H., Erica Pearl Messer, Joshua Masse, Erna Olafson, Barbara W. Boat, and Frank W. Putnam. “Child-Adult Relationship Enhancement (CARE): An evidence-informed program for children with a history of trauma and other behavioral challenges.” Child Abuse Negl 53 (March 2016): 138–45.

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Gurwitch, R. H., B. Pfefferbaum, and M. J. T. Leftwich. “The impact of terrorism on children: Considerations for a new era.” In Trauma Practice in the Wake of September 11, 2001, 101–24, 2014.


Sprang, G., C. D. Craig, J. J. Clark, K. Vergon, M. S. Tindall, J. Cohen, and R. Gurwitch. “Factors Affecting the Completion of Trauma-Focused Treatments: What Can Make a Difference?” Traumatology 19, no. 1 (March 1, 2013): 28–40.

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