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Laurel J. Kiser, PhD

Academic Title:

Associate Professor

Primary Appointment:


Additional Title:

Associate Professor Division of Psychiatric Services Research, Department of Psychiatry Principal Investigator, School of Medicine, Family Informed Trauma Treatment (FITT) Center


737 West Lombard Street 500

Phone (Primary):

(410) 706-2490

Phone (Secondary):



(410) 706-0022

Education and Training

Dr. Kiser received a doctorate in psychology from Indiana University in 1981 and completed internships and post-doctoral training in child clinical psychology at the University of Tennessee Memphis. In 1986, she obtained a Master’s of Business Administration from University of Memphis. 


Laurel J Kiser, Ph.D., M.B.A. is a psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine. She received a doctorate from Indiana University in 1981 and completed internships and post-doctoral training in child clinical psychology. In 1986, she obtained a Master’s of Business Administration from University of Memphis. Dr. Kiser has served as School of Medicine Principal Investigator of the Family Informed Trauma Treatment (FITT) Center, a National Child Traumatic Stress Network Category II Center, since 2007.

Dr. Kiser has expertise in the development and provision of intensive psychiatric services to children growing up in low-income, multiple problem families. Through this work, Dr. Kiser has treated many children, and adolescents living in poverty, playing in dangerous neighborhoods, victims of neglect, physical and sexual abuse, with moderate to severe psychiatric and behavior disorders.  She has written on the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder and physical/sexual abuse on children and adolescents as well as family processes related to stress and trauma.

Dr. Kiser has received support from the National Institute of Mental Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to develop family-based interventions to address the high rates of trauma exposure and the prevalence of trauma-related disorders related to poverty.  Strengthening Family Coping Resources: Intervention for Families Impacted by Trauma (Kiser, 2015) is the culmination of her 20+ years working to address the needs of this highly impacted population.

Dr. Kiser is the lead author of the conceptual model of complex trauma in families.  Partnering with Charles Figley, she co-authored the second edition of Helping Traumatized Families.  Her articles appear frequently in the professional literature and she is a regular presenter and invited lecturer at national conferences.

Research/Clinical Keywords

trauma, family, poverty

Highlighted Publications


Kiser, LJ (2015) Strengthening Family Coping Resources: Intervention for Families Impacted by Trauma. NY: Routledge.

Figley, C & Kiser, LJ (2013) Helping Traumatized Families, 2nd Edition. NY: Routledge.

Journal Articles - refereed:

Backer, PM, Kiser, LJ, Gillham, JE, & Smith, J. (2015). The Maryland Resilience Breakthrough Series Collaborative: A quality improvement initiative for children’s mental health services providers. Psychiatric Services, 00, 1-3. doi: 10.1176/

Kiser LJ, Backer, P, Winkles, J, & Medoff, D. (2015). Strengthening Family Coping Resources (SFCR): Practice-based evidence for a promising trauma intervention. Journal of Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 4, 49-59. Doi:10/1037/cfp0000034

Kiser, L.J., Donohue, A., Hodgkinson, S., Medoff, D., & Black, M.M. (2010). Strengthening Family Coping Resources: The Feasibility of a Multi-Family Group Intervention for Families Exposed to Trauma. Journal of Traumatic Stress. 23(6), 802-806. DOI: 10.1002/jts.20587

Kiser, L. J., Baumgardner, B., Dorado, J. (2010). Who are we, but for the stories we tell: Family stories and healing. Psychological Trauma:  Theory, Research, and Practice. 2(3): 243-249.

Kiser, L. J., Medoff, D., Black, M. M., Nurse, Fiese, B. H. (2010). Family Ritual Mealtime Q-Sort: A Measure of Ritual and Routine Mealtime Functioning. Journal of Family Psychology. 24(1), 92-96.

Kiser, LJ, Nurse, W, Luckstead, L., Collins, KS. (2008). Understanding the impact of traumas on family life from the viewpoint of female caregivers living in urban poverty. Traumatology, 14(3): 77-90. DOI: 10.1177/1534765608320329

Kiser LJ, Bennett LA, Brubaker SJ. (2007). Exploring neighborhood ritual and routine processes related to healthy adolescent development. Children, Youth and Environments, 17(4):54-85.

Kiser LJ. (2007). Protecting children from the dangers of urban poverty. Clinical Psychology Review, 27(2): 211-225.

Hoagwood K, Burns B, Kiser L, Ringeisen H, Schoenwald S. (2001). Evidence-based practices in child and adolescent treatments and services. Psychiatric Services, 52(9):1179-1189.

Chang CF, Kiser LJ, Bailey JE, Martins M, Gibson WC, Schaberg KA, Mirvis DM, Applegate WB. (1998). Tennessee’s Failed Managed Care Program for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. JAMA, 279(11):864-869.

Kiser LJ, Ostoja E, Pruitt DB. (1998). Dealing with Stress and Trauma in Families.  In Betty Pfefferbaum, (Ed.). Stress in Children. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 7(1):87-104.

Kiser LJ, Millsap PA, Hickerson SG, Heston JD, Nunn W, Pruitt DB, Rohr M. (1996). Results of treatment one year later: Child and adolescent partial hospitalization. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 35(1):81-90.

Kiser LJ, Culhane D, Hadley TR. (1995). The current practice of child and adolescent partial hospitalization: results of a national survey. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 34(10):1336-1342.

Kiser LJ, Heston JD, Hickerson S, Millsap PA, Nunn W, Pruitt DB. (1993). Anticipatory stress in children and adolescents. American Journal of Psychiatry, 150:87-92.

Kiser LJ, Heston JD, Millsap PA, Pruitt DB. (1991). Physical and sexual abuse in childhood: Relationship with post-traumatic stress disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 30(5):776-783.

Kiser LJ, Heston JD, Millsap PA, Pruitt DB. (1991). Treatment protocols in child and adolescent day treatment. Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 42(6):597-600.

Kiser LJ, Bates J, Maslin C, Bayles K. (1986). Mother-infant play at six months as a predictor of attachment security at thirteen months. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry, 25(1):68-75.

Grants and Contracts

Ongoing Research Support

Title: Family-Informed Trauma Treatment (FITT) Center      

Role: Principal Investigator                                         Period: 09/30/07-9/30/21

Agency: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

The goal of the FITT Center is to develop, implement, evaluate, and disseminate theoretically sound, family-based interventions for underserved populations.


Title: Physiological Co-Regulation of Stress Between Maternal Caregivers and their Children: A Translational Science Pilot Study

Role: Principal Investigator                                        Period: 4/01/15-3/31/17

Agency: Department of Psychiatry Chair’s Challenge

The goal of the grant is to conduct a study of dyadic regulation using physiological markers such as RSA.



Completed Research Support

Title: Maternal Mental Health Needs Assessment

Role: Principal Investigator                                         Period: 12/01/13-11/29/14; no cost extension

Agency: Annie E. Casey Foundation

The goal of the grant was to conduct a community survey of difficult to reach mothers in Baltimore City.


Title: Family Trauma Treatment Solutions

Role: Principal Investigator                                         Period: 12/01/2012-09/30/2014

Agency: Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

This pilot Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trial explored the sequence of trauma treatment most effective at reducing traumatic distress in children and their parents.

Links of Interest