NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (SCCAP), division 53 of the American Psychological Association, announced the award for Promoting Evidence-Based Mental Health to Renae Beaumont, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology in Clinical Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine. The award recognizes a clinical child and adolescent practitioner who has made a significant and enduring impact to promoting awareness, accessibility, and/or implementation of evidence-based mental health services for children and adolescents.
SCCAP promotes scientific inquiry, training, professional practice, and public policy in clinical child and adolescent psychology as a means of improving the welfare and mental health of children, youth, and families in the context of a diverse society. This recognition is designed to highlight the outstanding work of currently practicing clinicians who take scientifically derived clinical knowledge and promote, provide, or share it on a broader scale, in particular with members of diverse, vulnerable, or underserved groups.
Dr. Beaumont is a child and adolescent psychologist who founded the video‐gaming-based therapy program Secret Agent Society (SAS). SAS is an evidence‐based intervention framework that has been shown to improve the emotion regulation skills, social skills and behavior of eight‐ to 12‐year‐old children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Anxiety Disorders. To date, the SAS program has been used by over 20,000 youth in nine different countries.
“In 2002, I had a vision to create a video‐gaming based therapy program to transform the lives of children on the Autism Spectrum. At the time, I was a clinical psychology PhD student working part‐time as a flute teacher and my lessons with one student changed my life and motivated me to create Secret Agent Society. SAS is an evidence‐based intervention that teaches children the skills they needed to feel happier, calmer and braver and to make long-lasting friendships. It can be delivered face-to-face or remotely, and helped to address the global youth mental health crisis during COVID-19.” said Dr. Renae Beaumont.
“All of the research effort expended on the SAS program has been in the service of creating a strong evidence base and opening opportunities for access by a wide range of families in Australia, Canada, the USA and the UK. Renae has continued to work as a clinical psychologist and even completed further studies at Columbia University in the US to gain a license to practice through Weill Cornell Medicine and New York Presbyterian Hospital. This commitment to the practice of her profession is outstanding and her contribution to the profession is significant and ongoing,” said Shannon M. Bennett, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology in Clinical Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College.
“SAS is an innovative and unparalleled intervention for youth that teaches social and emotion regulation skills through developmentally attuned, multi-media, didactic, experiential, and social learning models across clinical, home, school, and peer environments. The program utilizes the secret agent metaphor to teach social and emotion regulation skills to youth through a fun, engaging, comprehensive paradigm with developmentally appropriate games and activities” said Dr Kate Sofronoff, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor in Clinical Psychology, School of Psychology, University of Queensland.
The newest iteration of SAS, launched in January, features an on‐demand online practitioner training course and a state‐of‐the art platform that delivers all program content digitally. These enhancements enable greater program accessibility, flexibility, scalability and sustainability at a time when many children around the world have felt socially isolated from peers due to COVID‐19.
Results from an initial randomized controlled trial of SAS showed 76% of child participants on the Autism Spectrum improved from having clinically significant social skill deficits to showing social skills similar to their typically developing peers (Beaumont & Sofronoff, 2008). Since this trial, the computer game and other program materials have been commercialized and have undergone several updates in response to research findings and feedback from children, caregivers, teachers and clinicians. Published research has shown SAS to be fun and engaging for children and caregivers alike, and to improve children’s emotion regulation skills, anxiety, social skills and behavior at home and at school (Beaumont et al., 2021; Einfeld et al., 2018).
Currently, Dr. Beaumont is a faculty member and clinician at Weill Cornell Medicine/New York Presbyterian Hospital, where she was invited in 2015 to help evaluate the benefits of SAS for clinic patients with complex pediatric mental health presentations, including those with multiple comorbid conditions. She currently assesses and treats children and adolescents with an array of emotional, behavioral and developmental concerns. She also trains, supervises and mentors psychology students, postdoctoral fellows, social workers and psychiatry trainees in evidence-based therapies for children and adolescents.
The winner of multiple awards for her work on SAS and author of over 30 publications, including treatment manuals, workbooks, games and software, Dr. Beaumont is passionate about using technologically innovative approaches to improve the mental health and wellbeing of youth and families on a global scale.
About Secret Agent Society
The Secret Agent Society (SAS Program helps kids 8 to 12 years of age crack the code of emotions and friendships. Junior Detectives graduate from SAS equipped with the skills to feel happier, calmer and braver and to make and keep friends. SAS features an animated ‘secret agent’ computer game, Helpful Thought Zapper action game, Challenger Board Game, Secret Message Transmission Device game and many more award-winning resources. The evidence-base, structured curriculum and captivating theme make this program one of the most successful of its kind in the world. For more information, please visit: https://www.sst-institute.net/.