Faculty Focus | Jan Faust, Ph.D.

What do you do when a child is traumatized by nightly gunfire? Or a parent punishes a child by telling him that the scar on his abdomen is where snakes can come out of his body? If you are NSU's Jan Faust, Ph.D., or one of her students, you address a person's primary need to feel safe first, within each situation's parameters.

Faust describes what this means. "You have to work with what those families need," Faust said. "You try to help them get out of the traumatic situation, but there is no guarantee because there are no financial resources. And there are limited options of where they can go and who they can live with."

In the first case mentioned above,  she explained, there was no "post-traumatic disorder" because nightly gun fire in the neighborhood was a common occurrence.  “So, what we did in that particular case was try to enhance the sense of security and safety. Everybody in the family agreed to come home before dark. The children were allowed to get a dog. You have to meet their needs."

Faust directs two of 16 specialized programs at NSU's College of Psychology, where her students receive as much devotion as do her traumatized patients. She includes students on research publications and enjoys seeing students excited about the change they affect. Faust also takes pride in the fact that attorneys who see students working forensic evaluations regularly comment that NSU psychology students understand how to best approach situations in family court.

"We have 14 faculty that run the university's specialty programs," Faust said. "So people are getting treatment by student therapists working directly under really cutting-edge professors. They are very well trained and supervised."

Faust, like numerous NSU faculty, teaches and researches while continuing to work in her field.

"I do think I am a better professor because I am in the trenches and have a small practice," Faust said. "I also think I am a better clinician because I am a professor. We have to stay on top of research, and always ask questions."

Faust and her students come up with projects and find subjects, Faust adds. "Because they're involved in all phases, it teaches them confidence. It gives them a scholarly track record that makes them more marketable, too."

After a year of coursework, students are matched by interest and given a case load of 5-9 patients, depending upon where they are in the program. Through the Socratic method, students learn how to conceptualize patient problems and determine individualized intervention.

"We're a team," Faust said. Together, the team tackles parent reunification, conducts forensic evaluations and guides treatment for children who have been abused or traumatized.

Still, Faust knows NSU is well-positioned to impact far more lives:

With $1 million, we could shorten our waiting list and allow more children and families to receive no-cost therapy. We could also fund a line of training for more interns, special graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows in this area.

With $5 million, we could endow a chair and professorship, which could triple the number of cases we can handle at NSU's Psychological Services Center. The need in South Florida is just that great.

With 10 million, we could explore opening one or more satellite clinics in places where NSU already has bricks and mortar -- Miami, Palm Beach, and Jacksonville, for example. We need a licensed person in each location to perform Baker Act assessments and supervise students, but this could greatly extend our outreach.


Dr. Jan Faust began her academic journey at the University of Florida on a journalism scholarship, but went on to receive her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Georgia. Along the way, she completed an internship in Pediatric Psychology at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and later pursued a post-doctoral fellowship atStanford University School of Medicine.

Upon completion of her fellowship, she joined the Center for Psychological Studies faculty ofNova Southeastern University and was subsequently promoted to full professor. While at NSU, Dr. Faust developed two specialty programs in the Psychology Department's Community Mental Health Center. 

One of her programs, Child and Adolescent Traumatic Stress Program, serves children exposed to traumatic or potentially traumatic stressors including all forms of child maltreatment, witnessing parent murder and domestic violence, exposure to natural disasters (e.g. hurricanes) and accidental injury death. The program also serves as a training and research framework for NSU graduate students.

Dr. Faust developed a family forensic psychology component to enhance her trauma program, wherein her doctoral students conduct forensic evaluations, parenting coordination, reunification therapy, therapeutic supervised visitation, and individual therapy for children and their families who are under the jurisdiction of family court. 

Dr. Faust has published her scholarly essays in peer reviewed journals and books on child, adolescent and family psychology, and has published and presented research on childhood stress and traumas, including interpersonal and medical traumas. She has presented papers in a variety of professional settings, including International Society of Traumatic Stress; Program Evaluation and Family Violence Research International Conference; American Psychological Association; Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy; American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy; American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children; and the Florida Bar Association. 

In addition, she has co-edited a book on child psychopathology and intervention published by Elsevier Science, as well as a book entitled Trauma Practice in the Wake of 911 published by Haworth Press. 

Currently, she is conducting research under the auspices of the Broward County Family Court to determine those variables which contribute to successful conflict resolution and its impact on children and parents. 

Finally, Dr. Faust engages in part-time independent practice where she offers post-divorce counseling and family coordination, as well as treats children, adolescents, and adults who have been exposed to maltreatment and other traumas. She has served as an academic expert witness, and has often been engaged as a second opinion reviewer. She is also a certified family mediator, as designated by the Florida Supreme Court. 


Excerpts from the interview with Jan FaustPh.D.

“Prevention is huge," said NSU Center for Psychological Studies Professor Jan Faust, Ph.D.  That is why her "one wish and desire" is to include a half hour parenting class, every day starting in pre-school.

"Parenting class is not just about how you treat kids, but why. And it includes effective methods of discipline and safety," Faust said. "We need to be teaching our own kids about their own backyard, their own home. Just like we teach them English, reading and math."


If you suspect child abuse, you are mandated by law to report it.

To Report Abuse, call 800.96ABUSE (22873) • TDD 800.453.5145 • http://reportabuse.dcf.state.fl.us  

PDF: Reporting Abuse Of Children and Vulnerable Adults

Chapter 39 of the Florida Statutes (F.S.) mandates that any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, neglected, or abandoned by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child's welfare shall immediately report such knowledge or suspicion to the Florida Abuse Hotline of the Department of Children and Families.

In 2012, House Bill 1355 was passed into law and shall be refer red to as "Protection of Vulnerable Persons" Ch. 2012‐155 of the Laws of Florida.  The bill adds to the current reporting requirements of 39.201, F.S removing the limitation that only "caregiver" abuse be reported to the hotline by requiring any person to report known or reasonably suspected physical or emotional abuse of a child by any adult person. The bill also requires any person to report known or reasonably suspected sexual abuse of a child by any person.  

The bill requires the central abuse hotline to accept any call reporting child abuse, abandonment, or neglect by someone other than a caregiver and to forward the concern to the appropriate sheriff’s office for further investigation.   The bill also states that theknowledge and willful failure of a person, who is required to report known or suspected child abuse, abandonment, or neglect is elevated from a first degree misdemeanor to a third degree felony.

As a result, the potential prison sentence is raised from 1 year to 5 years, and the potential fine is raised from a maximum of $1,000 to a maximum of $5,000.  In addition, the bill creates subsections 39.205(3) and (4), F.S., which provide penalties for Florida educational institutions whose personnel fail to report certain child abuse taking place on the campus of the institution or during an event or function sponsored by the institution. The bill subjects the institution to a $1 million fine for each failure to report child abuse, abandonment, or neglect.

Excerpts: Trauma Practice in the Wake of September 11th, 2001

Editors: Stephen N. Gold and Jan Faust


The attacks of September 11, 2001 were unprecedented in several respects. They were the first attacks on U.S. soil by a foreign power in several generations, were witnessed live on television throughout the U.S. and the world, and shattered widely held assumptions about security in the U.S. and, by implication, elsewhere. Some questions and challenges evoked by the events of September 11th of particular relevance to trauma practitioners are discussed. The contents of Trauma Practice in the Wake of September 11, 2001, are summarized and framed as representing a preliminary attempt to respond to some of these questions. Finally, some of the opportunities created by the September 11th attacks – increasing public awareness of trauma and its impact, fostering compassion for victims of various types of trauma and its impact, and strengthening international collaboration among traumatologists and advocates of world-peace are considered.

… In stark contrast to the fate of many survivors of domestic violence and abuse, who have been abandoned and even denigrated by the larger society, the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11th have enjoyed the heartfelt support of their families, their communities, the country as a whole, and, indeed the world. Undoubtedly they have benefited from the social support that empirical research has repeatedly demonstrated mitigates the adverse effects of traumatic events. No one dared to suggest, or even to consider, that the pain of the victims of the September 11th attacks was imagined or exaggerated. We all felt vulnerable, and we therefore all experienced some of the horror and dread aroused by the threat of terrorism.

One of the opportunities presented by the horrific events of September 11th is the possibility that it may help raise public consciousness about the reality of and psychological cost extracted by traumatic events. We can only hope that this depth and breadth of this experience throughout our society will foster greater sensitivity for the plight of those subjected to trauma in more private, less visible circumstances. In order to fully discharge our responsibility to the survivors we serve, trauma practitioners carry the obligation to do what we can to make this possibility an actuality.

In addition, this event may serve to increase our nation’s sense of compassion for other nations that have not previously been as fortunate to escape terrorism on homeland soil as has the United States. The notion that one of the world’s leading powers is not invulnerable only further heightens fear of susceptibility to terrorist attacks, regardless from which country one hails. This together with Americans’ increased empathy for those from other countries exposed to terrorism can serve to foster unity across nations, ideally promulgating the concept of world peace.

Another prospect created by the terrorist attacks of September 11th is to create stronger ties among traumatologists from different cultures, with divergent political affiliations, and from diverse regions of the world. In compiling this volume we have been privileged to witness what we hope comprise the beginnings of an ongoing process toward the end. One of the more salient examples of this trend are the statements from traumatologists from various countries about the impact of the September 11th attacks in their own lands.

Another is the empathic bond formed between Frances Waters and Ofra Ayalon during their interview on the impact of terrorism on children, adults, and families. Although they had never met before, during their interview, conducted via an intercontinental long distance telephone call, they rapidly developed a sense of solidarity in their shared concern for the welfare of traumatized children and their families. We fervently hope that the events of September 11th will promote the formation of connections such as these among the international community of traumatologists. Setting an example for this type of communication and collaboration may ultimately be one of the most powerful steps we can take toward ending the cycle of violence, whether on an international scale or within the intimate circle of the family.

Book: Trauma Practice in the Wake of September 11, 2001