James “Dimitri” Topitzes is co-founder and associate director of program design and clinical services at the Institute for Child and Family Well-Being and also serves as an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. His research interests include the etiology, effects, treatment and prevention of early childhood trauma. Dr. Topitzes devotes his time to applied research projects that adapt, implement, test, and disseminate evidence-informed practices within public service sectors. He partners with community-based health clinics, workforce development programs, and child welfare service systems to evaluate usual care and implement, test, and disseminate promising trauma-informed practices.
Recently, Dr. Topitzes teamed with Dr. Mersky to co-direct Project Connect, a randomized trial of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) adapted for use with foster families. Based on study results, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin (CHW) integrated the modified PCIT model into its community services array. In his role as an ICFW associate director, Dr. Topitzes contributes significantly to the sustainability and expansion of PCIT models within CHW. In addition, he continues to translate other promising approaches to the problem of early trauma, such as brief treatments or group interventions, within child welfare service settings and beyond. He directs the Trauma-Informed Care Graduate Certificate Program at UWM and teaches three courses within the certificate program.
Dr. Topitzes holds a master’s degree in social work and a doctoral degree in social welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also earned an advanced certificate in prevention science.