Dimitri TopitzesDimitri Topitzes

Associate Professor of Social Work
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.S.,University of Wisconsin-Madison

M.A., Holy Names College
B.A., Harvard University

Email: topitzes@uwm.edu
Phone: 414-229-3004
Room: 1057 Enderis Hall

Professional Interests

  • Long-term effects of child maltreatment
  • Interventions for preventing or treating child maltreatment and early life trauma
  • Evaluation of innovative mindfulness programming for justice populations

James "Dimitri" Topitzes earned his Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006. He worked in a clinical social work capacity for Waukesha County's Department of Health and Human Services (WCDHHS) for a number of years both before and after earning his doctorate. In 2008, Dimitri assumed a full-time social work faculty position at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. While fulfilling his faculty responsibilities, he maintains a limited role with WCDHHS.

Dimitri has conducted research in the following substantive areas: the long-term effects of child maltreatment, interventions aimed at preventing or treating early psychological trauma, and the long-term impacts of an early childhood intervention. He has also studied the social determinants of health, tracking the influence of educational experiences and childhood traumas on behavioral health outcomes. 

Currently, Dimitri teaches courses on advanced direct social work practice and trauma counseling to master’s level students. He also co-teaches a Philosophy of Science course to doctoral students. In addition, Governor Jim Doyle appointed Dimitri to the Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board in 2009. He continues to serve on the board, currently fulfilling the role of the Grants Committee Chairperson. 

Dimitri values university-community partnerships as a vehicle to bridge the gap between social work research and practice. At present, he maintains a close working relationship with several community collaborators (St. Aemilian-Lakeside, WCDHHS and the Alma Center of Milwaukee) to help evaluate and improve direct practice programming. He serves also as Co-PI for Project Connect, an intervention study designed to reduce problem behaviors among foster children who experienced early child maltreatment. A sample of Dimitri's recent grants, select publications and professional work is highlighted below.

Recent Grants

2012: A Feasibility Study on Employment and Non-Custodial Fathers with Children on Welfare. Total Funds:  $13,000. Source: Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago.

2012: Milwaukee County Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood Project. Total Funds: $35,000. Source: Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance.

2011-2013:  Developing Home Visiting in Wisconsin through Shared Practice and Mentoring. Total Funds: $315,000. Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration.

2011-2013:  Project Connect: Adapting PCIT to Foster Care. Total Funds: $300,000. Source: National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Child Health & Human Development.

Select Recent Publications: Book Chapters

Topitzes, J., Mersky, J. P., & Reynolds, A. J. (in press). Maltreatment prevention programming in early childhood: A review of models delivered in center-based settings: In R. Alexander, N. Guterman, & S. Alexander (Eds.), Child maltreatment prevention. St. Louis, MO: STM Learning, Inc. Invited & Refereed.

Select Recent Publications: Journal Articles

Mersky, J. P., Topitzes, J., & Reynolds, A. J. (2013). Impacts of adverse childhood experiences on health, mental health, and substance use in early adulthood: A cohort study of an urban, minority sample in the U.S. Child Abuse & Neglect, 37, 917-925.

Topitzes, J., Mersky, J. P., Dezen, K. A., & Reynolds, A. J. (2013). Adult resilience among maltreated children: A prospective investigation of main effect and mediating models. Children and Youth Services Review, 35, 937-949.

Topitzes, J., Mersky, J. P., & Reynolds, A. J. (2012). From child maltreatment to violent offending: An examination of mixed-gender and gender-specific models. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27, 2322-2347.

Mersky, J. P., Topitzes, J., & Reynolds, A. J. (2012). Unsafe at any age: Linking childhood and adolescent maltreatment to delinquency and crime. Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency, 49, 295-318.

Merksy, J. P., Topitzes, J., & Reynolds, A. J. (2011). Maltreatment prevention through early childhood intervention: A confirmatory evaluation of the Chicago Child-Parent Center preschool program. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 1454-1463.

Topitzes, J., Mersky, J. P., & Reynolds, A. J. (2011). Child maltreatment and offending behavior: Gender specific effects and pathways. Criminal Justice & Behavior. 38, 492-510.

Topitzes, J., Mersky, J. P., & Reynolds, A. J. (2010). Child maltreatment and adult cigarette smoking: An examination of a long-term developmental model. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 35, 484-498.

Mersky, J. P., & Topitzes, J. (2010). Comparing the emerging adult outcomes of maltreated and non-maltreated children: A prospective longitudinal investigation. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 1086-1096.

Mersky, J. P., Topitzes, J., & Reynolds, A. J. (2009). Chronic neglect: Prediction and prevention. Protecting Children, 41(1), 67-77.

Topitzes, J., Godes, O., Mersky, J. P., Ceglarek, S., & Reynolds, A. J. (2009). Educational success and adult health: Findings from the Chicago Longitudinal Study. Prevention Science, 10, 175-195.

Reynolds, A. J., Mathieson, L., & Topitzes, J. (2009). Can early childhood intervention prevent child maltreatment? A review of research. Child Maltreatment, 14, 182-206.

Professional Work

Article Referee
Child Abuse & Neglect
Journal of Pediatric Psychology
Public Health

Journal of the Society for Social Work Research
Society for Social Work Research Annual Conference

Board Member
Wisconsin Governor’s Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board, Grants Committee Chairperson

Common Elements Approach to Evidence-Based Practice, Waukesha County Department of Health & Human Services. 

Professional Affiliations
National Association of Social Workers
Society for Prevention Research
Society for Social Work Research
American Public Health Association
Institute of Educational Sciences
Society for Research in Child Development

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