Evidence-Based Programs

New Beginnings Program

The New Beginnings Program for Divorcing and Separating Families (NBP) is a 10-session program designed to promote effective parenting following family separation or divorce. The program teaches skills that help parents create positive and warm relationships, use open communication with children, employ effective discipline, and keep children out of the middle of conflict between the parents. The program focuses on effective parenting because research has shown that the quality of parenting by both mothers and fathers is one of the most powerful resources for helping children adjust positively to parental divorce or separation.

For more information about licensing and training, please see familytransitions-ptw.com.

Evidence for New Beginnings Program

NBP has been rigorously evaluated in two randomized experimental trials. Both trials demonstrated that it was effective to improve parenting and to reduce children’s mental health problems. One of the trials involved 240 families and included a follow-up assessment six years after their participation in the program when the children were 15-18 years of age. The results showed that children whose parents participated in the New Beginnings Program had better adjustment on a wide range of outcomes. They had 37% lower rates of diagnosed mental disorder, and lower levels of mental health problems, as well as less use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. They also had higher levels of self-esteem and higher grades -- 35% more of the adolescents whose parents were in the NBP had an A or B average in school than did those in the control condition. Importantly, program effects to improve child outcomes were found to be due to changes in parenting that occurred during the program.

Current Research

The current study is a large-scale effectiveness trial of the New Beginnings Program. This five-year project involves a collaboration between family courts and community-based service providers in four counties in Arizona and the New Beginnings Program research team. The project is comparing two versions of the New Beginnings Program—a 2 week and a 10-week version—and will evaluate the following:

  • To what extent do parents sign up for and utilize the program?
  • How do court-related professionals make use of the program by referring parents?
  • How well do community providers deliver the program? and
  • How may parents and children benefit from participation in either a two-session or a ten-session version of the New Beginnings Program?

Visit the New Beginnings Program website to learn more about the model and training opportunities.

Website coming soon

Investigators: Irwin Sandler, Sharlene Wolchik, Jenn-Yun Tein, Emily Winslow, Nancy Gonzales, Cady Berkel, Sanford Braver

Grants

NIDA Grant R01 DAO26874-01A1. Multi-court trial of NBP to prevent substance abuse and mental health disorders.

Principal Investigators: I. Sandler, S. Wolchik, J. Y. Tein, C., E. Winslow, N. Gonzales, C. Berkel. 2011-2016.

W. T. Grant Foundation – Experimental program to evaluate court-based services for divorcing families.

Principal Investigators: I. Sandler & S. Braver. 2008-2010.

NIMH Grant R01 MH071707. Effects of NBP for Children of Divorce 15 Years Later.

Principal Investigators: S. Wolchik (PI) & I. Sandler 2006-2009.

NIMH Grant 1R01 MH057012-01A1. Children of divorce: 6-year follow-up of preventive efforts.

Principal Investigators: S. Wolchik (PI) & I. Sandler 1998 - 2001.

NIMH Grant R01 MH51184. A preventive intervention for fathers after divorce.

Principal Investigators: I. Sandler & S. Braver. 1995 – 2000.

NIMH Grant RO3 MH38474. Impact of significant divorce events on children, 1983.

Principal Investigators: I. Sandler, S. Wolchik & S. Braver. July 1983 – June 1984.

NICHD Grant RO1 ND1983. Parents without children: Non-custodial parents.

Principal Investigators: I. Sandler, S. Braver & S. Wolchik. 1985 – 1990.

NICHD Grant R01 ND19383. Non-custodial parents: Parents without children.

Principal Investigators: I. Sandler, S. Braver and S. Wolchik. 1991 – 1992.

NIMH Grant RO3 MH38474. Impact of significant divorce events on children, 1983.

Principal Investigators: I. Sandler, S. Wolchik & S. Braver. July 1983 – June 1984.

Publications

  • Mahrer, N. E., Winslow, E. B., Wolchik, S. A., Tein, J-Y., & Sandler, I. N. (in press). Effects of a preventive intervention for divorced families on the intergenerational transmission of parenting attitudes in young adult offspring. Child Development.
  • Salem, P., Sandler, I., & Woplchik, S. (2013). Taking stock of parent education in the Family Courts: Envisioning a public health approach. Family Court Review.
  • Sigal, A. B., Wolchik, S. A., Tein, J. Y., & Sandler, I. N. (2012). Enhancing youth outcomes following parental divorce: A longitudinal study of the effects of the New Beginnings Program on educational and occupational goals. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 41, 150-165.
  • Sandler, I., Wolchik, S., Winslow, E., Mahrer, N., Moran, J., & Weinstock, D. (2012). Quality of maternal and paternal parenting following separation and divorce. In K. Kuehnle & L. Drozd (Eds.), Parenting plan evaluations: Applied research for the Family Court (pp. 85 – 123). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Vlez, C., Wolchik, S. A., Tein, J. Y., & Sandler, I. N. (2011). Protecting children from the consequences of divorce: A longitudinal study of the effects of parenting on children’s coping efforts and coping efficacy. Child Development, 82, 244-257.
  • Velez, C., Wolchik, S. A., & Sandler, I. N. (2011). Interventions to help parents and children through separation and divorce. In R. E. Tremblay, M. Boivin & R. D. Peters (Eds.), Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development. Montreal, Quebec: Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development.
  • Wolchik, S. A., Sandler, I. N., Jones, S., Gonzales, N. A., Doyle, K. W., Winslow, E. B., Zhou, Q., & Braver, S. L. (2009). The New Beginnings Program for divorcing and separating families: Moving from efficacy to effectiveness. Family Court Review, 47, 416-435.
  • Wolchik, S. A., Sandler, I. N., Jones, S., Gonzales, N. A., Doyle, K. W., Winslow, E. B., Zhou, Q., & Braver, S. L. (2009). The New Beginnings Program for divorcing and separating families: Moving from efficacy to effectiveness. Family Court Review, 47, 416-435.
  • Sandler, I., Miles, J., Cookston, J. & Braver, S. (2008). Effects of father and mother parenting on children’s mental health in high and low conflict divorces. Family Court Review, 46, 282-297.
  • Zhou, Q., Sandler, I., Millsap, R., Wolchik, S., & Dawson-McClure, S. (2008). Mother-child relationship quality and effective discipline as mediators of the six-year effects of the New Beginnings Program for children from divorced families. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76, 579-595.
  • Wolchik, S. A., Sandler, I., Weiss, L., & Winslow, E. B. (2007). New Beginnings: An empirically-based program to help divorced mothers promote resilience in their children. In J. M. Briesmeister & C. E. Schaefer (Eds.), Handbook of parent training: Helping parents prevent and solve problem behaviors (pp. 25-62). New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Sandler, I. N., Wolchik, S. W., Winslow, E. B., & Schenck, C. (2006). Prevention as the promotion of healthy parenting following divorce. In S. R. H. Beach, M. Z. Wamboldt, N. J. Kaslow, R. E. Heyman, M. B. First, L. Underwood, and D. Reiss, (eds.),  Relational Processes and DSM-V:  Neuroscience, Assessment, Prevention and Intervention (pp.195-209). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
  • Tein, J.-Y., Sandler, I.N., MacKinnon, D.P., & Wolchik, S.A. (2004). How did it work? Who did it work for? Mediation and mediated moderation of a preventive intervention for children of divorce. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, 617-624.
  • Dawson-McClure, S. R., Sandler, I. N., Wolchik, S. A., & Millsap, R. E. (2004). Risk as a moderator of the effects of prevention programs for children from divorced families: A six-year longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 32, 175-190.
  • Wolchik, S.A., Sandler, I.N., Millsap, R.E., Plummer, B.A., Greene, S.M., Anderson, E.R., et al. (2002). Six-year follow-up of a randomized, controlled trial of preventive interventions for children of divorce. Journal of the American Medical Association, 288, 1-8.
  • Wolchik, S.A., West, S.G., Sandler, I.N., Tein, J.-Y., Coatsworth, D., Lengua, L., et al. (2000). The New Beginnings Program for Divorced Families: An experimental evaluation of theory-based single-component and dual-component programs. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 843-856.