Our Training Team

Our Training Team

What separates the ECIC team from other potentially qualified training teams is expertise not only the clinical model, but also implementation science which will support high quality implementation and sustainability. We also have a team of trainers who work in university, community and corporate settings with expertise in diverse topics including PCIT, Teacher-Child Interaction Therapy, in-home applications of PCIT, program development, marketing, engagement and child maltreatment.

In order to balance expertise in the model (PCIT), implementation science, and community behavioral health the ECIC has been guided by a steering committee comprised of representatives including parents of children with behavioral health challenges; community-based clinicians and administrators; state-level behavioral health, child welfare, managed care, and early education professionals; behavioral health policy experts, school district administrators, and university-based researchers. We also have an organizational structure that includes and supports talented team members from clinical, academic and community settings.​

Our lead trainers include Amy Herschell, Ph.D., Kristen Schaffner, Ph.D., Sarah Taber-Thomas, Ph.D., and Ashley Scudder, Ph.D.

Dr. Herschell is a Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) International Certified Master Trainer and clinical psychologist who is licensed in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. She is the Director of the Early Childhood Innovations Center (ECIC). While her clinical interests focus on early interventions for externalizing behavior and child maltreatment (e.g., PCIT, Intensive Family Coaching, Teacher Child Interaction Therapy) her research focuses on studying factors related to the implementation of evidence-based treatments in community settings. Dr. Herschell has conducted multiple studies on this topic to better understand stakeholder perspectives, workforce turnover, treatment-as-usual, and the impact of different training approaches on organizational change, clinician behavior, and family outcomes.

She also is an active member of PCIT International, including serving as the chair of the Research Task Force. In her free time, Dr. Herschell and her husband (Aaron) are the proud parents of Lucas (age 11 years) and Rachel (age 7 years). As a family, they enjoy traveling, juggling lots of fun activities (e.g., sports, music lessons) and caring for their three dogs (Sydney, Josie and Lucky).

Dr. Schaffner is an assistant professor at California University of Pennsylvania and a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. She is certified by PCIT International as a Reginal (Level II) Trainer. She has provided extensive training and consultation in this evidence-based treatment to over 100 community-based mental health professionals across the state of Pennsylvania. Clinically, Dr. Schaffner’s area of focus include early childhood, disruptive behavior disorders, consultation/collaboration with early care and education, as well as community implementation of evidence-based intervention.

She has particular interest in PCIT and the adaptation of PCIT with teachers (Teacher-Child Interaction Training). She currently works with the ECIC to support the sustainability of PCIT across the Commonwealth of PA as a regional trainer. Her research interest focus on community implementation of evidence-based treatments, training of community-based practitioners, as well as early care and education.

Outside of her love for PCIT, she also adores caring for (and trying to keep up with) her two young sons and spending time with her husband. She is an avid runner, novice yogi, and chocolate enthusiast. She also enjoys listening to podcasts, watching horror movies, and reading. 

Dr. Scudder is an Assistant Professor in the Counseling Psychology Department at Chatham University. She is a licensed psychologist in PA & Iowa. Her primary clinical and research interests are in the implementation and sustainability of evidence-based behavioral health treatments for children and families.

Dr. Scudder has published articles and chapters in the areas of disruptive behavior disorders, childhood trauma, implementation science, and PCIT. She has collaborated with academic and community partners on several studies to develop understanding and infrastructure for sustaining PCIT in community-based systems, with a focus on the importance of providing early supports to families of young children.

Dr. Scudder’s current work emphasizes increasing knowledge and access to effective services (e.g., training and collaborations with family medicine and pediatric providers, child welfare case workers, early childcare providers, and parents) as well as extending effective interventions to novel populations (e.g., examining PCIT for reduction of behavioral difficulties with children with autism spectrum disorders). Dr. Scudder is a PCIT International Level 2 Trainer and currently serves on the PCIT International Task Force on Policy and Advocacy.

Dr. Scudder enjoys spending time with her “boys” Owen (3), Henry (newborn), Tyler (husband) and Pinocchio (dog). She also enjoys photography, gardening, hot yoga, traveling and hosting friends and family often!

Sarah Taber-Thomas, Ph.D.

Dr. Taber-Thomas is a Level II Certified PCIT Trainer and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University at Buffalo (UB). As a member of the PCIT Across PA training team (2013-2015), she has trained community-based clinicians across the state of Pennsylvania, developed PCIT training curricula, and remains involved in ongoing research on PCIT implementation.

She is currently the Director of the Psychological Services Center at UB, where she oversees clinical training of advanced clinical psychology doctoral students. Since joining UB in 2015, she has developed a PCIT program and trains students in evidence-based treatments for children and families. Sarah has two sons (ages 3 and 6), who have also trained many clinicians in PCIT, and give her many opportunities to fine tune her CDI and PDI skills. ​

shelley hiegel

Shelley Hiegel, MEd, MSCP, NCC

Shelley served as the Coordinator of PCIT Across PA, a five-year National institute of Mental Health (NIMH) funded study from 2012 to 2017. Her background is in special education and behavioral health. Her interests lie in implementing evidence-based programming in prevention and treatment for school age children. She has led school leadership in assessing strategies for developing a healthy system by improving parent/teacher relationships, providing programs for students’ safety, and improving principal/staff relationships. She assisted in the implementation of PCIT for agency staff and worked with the management team and PCIT trainer to develop funding mechanisms for several cohort trainings.

Shelley currently works with the Early Childhood Innovations Center and sees PCIT families in an Allegheny County School District. She enjoys traveling, back-packing, hiking, and cooking! She enjoys matching up families with dogs in need of a forever home.

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