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Cindy M. Schaeffer, PhD

Academic Title:

Associate Professor

Primary Appointment:


Additional Title:

Child-Clinical Psychologist


737 W. Lombard St. Baltimore, MD 21201

Phone (Primary):

(410) 706-6855


(410) 706-0984

Education and Training

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Prevention Science, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Mental Health (2000-2002)

Ph.D., Child-Clinical Psychology, University of Missouri (2000)

Pre-doctoral internship: University of Maryland Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, School Mental Health Track (1999-2000)



Dr. Schaeffer's research focuses on developing, evaluating, and ensuring the successful real-world implementation of interventions for youth involved in, or at high risk of involvement in, the juvenile justice and child protective service (CPS) systems. Dr. Schaeffer’s focus is on effectively addressing the many complex clinical and psychosocial problems facing youth involved in these systems and their families, including: criminal offending; school dropout and expulsion; substance abuse; physical and emotional abuse; trauma symptomology; ineffective parenting; family conflict and family violence, including child witnessing of intimate partner violence; low social support; and deviant peer relationships. Dr. Schaeffer’s work has been highly influenced by Multisystemic Therapy (MST), an ecological, empirically-supported family-based intervention originally designed for juvenile offenders.  She is an expert in this treatment model, having served as an MST therapist for several years treating juveniles with serious and chronic offending patterns including sexual offending, and she has served as a clinical consultant to MST treatment teams ever since. Dr. Schaeffer adapted MST for families involved with CPS due to child maltreatment and caregiver substance abuse (model known as MST-Building Stronger Families) and for CPS-involved families experiencing both child maltreatment and intimate partner violence (model known as MST-IPV).  She has also developed other innovative interventions for juvenile justice- and CPS-involved populations, including a mobile phone app to support effective parental management of youth behavior and an ecological intervention that promotes youth success in mainstream peer groups. 



Research/Clinical Keywords

Juvenile justice, child welfare, conduct problems, externalizing behavior problems, family therapy, Multisystemic Therapy (MST), alternatives to suspensions, school mental health

Highlighted Publications

Tuerk, P.W., Schaeffer, C.M., McGuire, J.F., Adams-Larsen, M., Capobianco, N., & Piacentini, J. (2019).  Adapting Evidence-Based Treatments for Digital Technologies: A Critical Review of Functions, Tools, and the Use of Branded Solutions. Current Psychiatry Reports. 21, Article number 106. Available at .

Schaeffer, C.M., Henggeler, S. W., Ford, J.D., Mann, M., Chang, R., & Chapman, J.E. (2014). RCT of a promising vocational/employment program for high-risk juvenile offenders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 46, 134-143.

Schaeffer, C.M., Swenson, C.C., Tuerk, E.H., & Henggeler, S.W. (2013). Comprehensive treatment for co-occurring child maltreatment and parental substance abuse: Outcomes from a 24-month pilot study of the MST-Building Stronger Families program. Child Abuse and Neglect, 37, 596-607.

Swenson, C. C., Schaeffer, C. M., Henggeler, S. W., Faldowski, R., & Mayhew, A. M. (2010). Multisystemic therapy for child abuse and neglect: A randomized effectiveness trial. Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 497-507. 

Schaeffer, C. M., Henggeler, S. W., Chapman, J. E., Halliday-Boykins, C. A., Cunningham, P. B., Randall, J., & Shapiro, S. B. (2010). Mechanisms of effectiveness in juvenile drug court: Altering risk processes associated with delinquency and substance abuse. Drug Court Review, 7, 57-94.

Schaeffer, C. M., & Borduin, C. M. (2005). Long-term follow-up to a randomized clinical trial of multisystemic therapy with serious and violent juvenile offenders. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73, 445-453.

Grants and Contracts

  • Evaluating Promising School Staff and Resource Officer Approaches for Reducing Harsh Discipline, Suspensions, and Arrests. National Institute of Justice (NIJ) 2017-CK-BX-0014 (MPIs: C. Schaeffer & S. Hoover) 

  • Using Mobile Technology to Enhance MST Outcomes. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) R44 MH 097349-02A1 (MPIs: C. Schaeffer & L. Dimeff)

  • Evaluate an Ecological Model for Intimate Partner Violence in Cases of Child Maltreatment. The Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) GA-2016-B0311 (MPI: C. Schaeffer & C. Swenson)

  • Preventing Problem Sexual Behavior among Young Adolescents. National Institute for Child Health and Development (NICHD) R21 HD083704-01 (PI – E. Letourneau, Co-I C. Schaeffer).

Links of Interest