Intervention to Prevent PTSD in Children

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 6 (UPI) — One in five children may get post-traumatic stress disorder after a traumatic event such as a car crash, an assault or other violence, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Dr. Steven Berkowitz of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, director of the Penn Center for Youth and Family Trauma Response and Recovery, says the study involved 106 children ages 7-17 and a caregiver randomly assigned to receive the four-session Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention. Others received a four-session supportive comparison intervention.


The intervention began with an initial baseline assessment to measure the children’s trauma history and preliminary visits with caregivers.

After two additional sessions, the clinician, caregiver and child decide on a homework assignment to practice certain coping skills.

“This is the first preventative intervention to improve outcomes in children who have experienced a potentially traumatic event, and the first to reduce the onset of PTSD in kids,” Berkowitz says in a statement. “If this study is replicated and validated in future studies, this intervention could be used nationally to help children successfully recover from a traumatic event without progressing to PTSD.”

The study is published online in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

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