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New Beginnings (for children of divorce)

Blueprints Program Rating: Model

A 10-session group program, with two individual sessions, for divorced mothers and their children to promote resilience in children after parental divorce.

Program Outcomes

  • Antisocial-aggressive Behavior
  • Close Relationships with Parents
  • Externalizing
  • Internalizing
  • Mental Health - Other
  • Reciprocal Parent-Child Warmth
  • Sexual Risk Behaviors

Program Type

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Training
  • Parent Training

Program Setting

  • Community (e.g., religious, recreation)
  • Mental Health/Treatment Center

Continuum of Intervention

  • Selective Prevention (Elevated Risk)


  • Late Childhood (5-11) - K/Elementary
  • Early Adolescence (12-14) - Middle School
  • Late Adolescence (15-18) - High School


  • Male and Female


  • All Race/Ethnicity


  • Blueprints: Model

Program Information Contact

Sharlene Wolchik
Prevention Research Center
Psychology North, Suite 205
Arizona State University

Program Developer/Owner

  • Sharlene Wolchik, Ph.D.
  • Arizona State University

Brief Description of the Program

The New Beginnings program is a group-based intervention for divorced mothers and their children that consists of 10 two-hour group sessions held either for mothers or concurrently for mothers and their children. Groups are led by two master's level clinicians. The intervention focuses on changing aspects of the child's environment that directly involve the child, including increasing effective discipline strategies, increasing mother-child relationship quality and decreasing exposure to interparental conflict. There are two individual phone sessions that are structured, but also allow for tailoring the program to specific needs. Program skills are taught through presentations, role-playing, and videotapes.

The dual-component intervention (for mothers and their children), consists of group sessions focused on changing behaviors that have been found to predict postdivorce adjustment problems, including coping strategies, mother-child relationship quality and interparental conflict.

The mother-only program is certified as Model by Blueprints, as this program has been replicated. The dual-component (for both mothers and children) is certified as Promising only, as this program has no replication.

See: Full Description


At posttest, the mother program showed significant improvements compared to the control group on the following outcomes and mediators:

  • Internalizing and externalizing problems (Wolchik et al., 2000)
  • Child reported aggression (Wolchik et al., 1993)
  • Parent reported communication, positive routines, control, and willingness to change visitation (Wolchik at al., 1993)
  • Active coping, avoidant coping, support coping, and observed attending (compared to dual component program; Wolchik et al., 2000)

Significant Program Effects on Risk and Protective Factors:

  • Mother–child relationship quality, effective discipline strategies, observed validation of content, and observed attending (Wolchik et al., 2000)

At the 6-month follow-up, the mother program showed significant improvements compared to the control group on the following outcome and mediators (Wolchik et al., 2000):

  • Externalizing problems
  • Observed attending
  • Dual Component Program showed significant improvement in Active Coping Strategies (compared to mother plus child program)

At the six-year follow-up (Wolchik et al., 2002), compared to the control group, the mother program showed no significant main effects, while the mother and child program showed significant main effects on:

  • externalizing behaviors
  • number of sexual partners
  • diagnosis of mental health disorder

At the 15-year follow-up, the combined intervention groups (mother and dual component programs) showed improvements on (Wolchik et al., 2013):

  • Internalizing disorder

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

Samples in the two studies were primarily Caucasian (approximately 90%).

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors
  • Family: Family transitions and mobility, Neglectful parenting*, Parent stress, Psychological aggression/discipline*, Violent discipline
Protective Factors
  • Individual: Coping Skills*, Problem solving skills
  • Family: Attachment to parents*, Non-violent discipline*, Opportunities for prosocial involvement with parents, Parent social support, Rewards for prosocial involvement with parents

*Risk/Protective Factor was significantly impacted by the program.

See also: New Beginnings (for children of divorce) Logic Model (PDF)

Training and Technical Assistance

There are three components of training: initial training, weekly supervision and training for 1st time leaders, and supervision and training for experienced leaders.

Initial training. The 3-day (8 hours/day) training consists of didactic material on the conceptual framework of the program and results of research on the short- and long-term effects of the program, a brief review of the content of each session, role play of selected segments of each session, and practice using the web-based systems for monitoring parent involvement and the quality and fidelity of program delivery.

Weekly training and supervision-1st time leaders. First-time leaders are required to participate in weekly training and supervision. Training includes an individually-administered on-line segment and a group training component (3-4 leaders and one supervisor). The on-line training (1 hour) describes each component of the session and provides tips for delivering the program effectively. The group training (40 minutes) involves rehearsing segments of the upcoming session and getting feedback from the supervisor and other leaders. Supervision (1 hour) focuses on determining solutions to difficulties parents are having in completing the program activities with their children. Leaders also receive feedback about their fidelity and quality of implementation by email. This feedback is based on the supervisor’s review of a segment of the session. Supervisors are doctoral-level psychologists with experience delivering and supervising the program.

Training and supervision-experienced leaders. After completing one group, leaders are evaluated by the supervisors and the two program developers to assess appropriateness for certification as independent providers of the New Beginnings Program and to plan the nature of supervision for future groups. Leaders who meet criteria based on a review of their videos and their participation in supervision sessions are not required to attend future supervision but continue to have access to the weekly on-line training and as-needed consultation with their supervisor. Leaders needing additional supervision are provided feedback regarding areas of improvement and participate in supervision during the delivery of their second group. Depending on a leader’s performance during the first group, in the second group, supervision consists of supervisory review of session videos and phone or Skype-facilitated meetings every other week (approximately ½ hour per week) or less intensive supervision that consists of periodic e-mails from the supervisor that provide feedback, two phone calls to review how things are going in the group, and as-needed consultation (approximately ½ hour per week). After running the second group, leaders are evaluated by their supervisors and the two program developers to determine their appropriateness for certification, further supervision, or that they are not a good fit as leaders of the New Beginnings Program. Leaders who meet certification requirements continue to have access to technical assistance on an as-needed basis and the on-line weekly training.

Brief Evaluation Methodology

The strongest evaluation utilized an experimental design with 240 pairs of divorced mothers and children who were randomly assigned to one of two intervention conditions: mother only or dual component (mother-child). The control condition was a self-study or literature control program in which subjects received three books and a syllabus to guide their reading. Participants were recruited through divorce decrees filed in Maricopa County, Arizona, as well as through media advertisements. Data were collected at four time points: baseline, postintervention, 6-month follow-up, and 6-year follow-up. Outcome measures included internalizing and externalizing behaviors, as well as mental health problems and disorders, substance use, risky sexual behavior, and GPA. Mediating factors related to the outcomes included mother-child relationship quality and effective discipline strategies. A second randomized trial was conducted with a smaller sample (94 families) and used the mother-only intervention.

Peer Implementation Sites

MeriBeth Adams-Wolf MA/LCAC/NCACII
Our Place Drug and Alcohol Education Svcs
400 E. Spring Street
New Albany, In 47150

Suzanne M. Schunk, LCSW
Vice President of Family Support Services
2850 N. 24th Streeet,
Phoenix, AZ 85008
Main (602) 266-5976
Direct: (602) 224-1744


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(2), 175-190.

McClain, D. B., Wolchik, A. S., Winslow, E., Tein, J., Sandler, I., & Millsap, R. E. (2010). Developmental cascade effects of the New Beginnings Program on adolescent adaptation outcomes. Development and Psychopathology, 22(4), 771-784.

Soper, A. C., Wolchik, S. A., Tein, J.-Y., & Sandler, I. N. (2010). Mediation of a preventive intervention’s 6-year effects on health risk behaviors. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 24(2), 300-310.

Tein, J., Sandler, I. N., MacKinnon, D. P., & Wolchik, S. A. (2004). How did it work? Who did it work for? Mediation in the context of a moderated prevention effect for children of divorce. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72(4), 617-624.

Wolchik, S., Sandler, I., Millsap, R. E., Plummer, B. A., Greene, S. M., Anderson, E. R., ... Haine, R. A. (2002). Six-year follow-up of preventive interventions for children of divorce: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA, 288(15), 1874-1881.

Wolchik, S., West, S. Sandler, I., Tein, J., Coatsworth, L., Weiss, L., ... Griffin, W. (2000). An experimental evaluation of theory-based mother and mother-child programs for children of divorce. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68(5), 843-856.

Wolchik, S., West, S., Westover, S., Sandler, I., Martin, A., Lustig, J., ... Fisher, J. (1993). The children of divorce parenting intervention: Outcome evaluation of an empirically based program. American Journal of Community Psychology, 21(3), 293-331.

Wolchik, S. A., Sandler, I., Tein, J.-Y., Mahrer, N., Millsap, R., Winslow, E., ... Reed, A. (2013). Fifteen-year follow-up of a randomized trial of a preventive intervention for divorced families: Effects on mental health and substance use outcomes in young adulthood. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 81(4), 660-673.

Zhou, Q., Sandler, I. N., Millsap, R. E., Wolchik, S. A., & Dawson-McClure, S. R. (2008). Mother-child relationship quality and effective discipline as mediators of the 6-year effects of new beginnings program for children from divorced families. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76(4), 579-594.