Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Giving traumatized kids incorrect treatment

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This is bad:

There’s good news and, not surprisingly, bad news for children and teenagers grappling with the psychological aftermath of trauma. On the up side, research shows that certain interventions ease post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma-related problems in young people. On the down side, most mental-health practitioners use trauma treatments for kids and teens that lack scientific support.

These conclusions come from an extensive research review conducted by the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, an independent group of 12 investigators partly funded by the federal government. Its findings appear in the September American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

To make matters worse, pediatricians and school officials rarely screen children for past exposure to traumatic events and resulting psychological symptoms, the task force notes. Efforts are underway to develop web-based guides for parents and teachers to identify and help kids experiencing trauma-related problems.

Although the review focuses on Western countries, research has also just started to explore the use of trained non-professionals to treat traumatized children in developing nations, where mental health workers are scarce.

Kids with trauma-related psychological problems tend to do poorly in school if they remain untreated or are inadequately treated, remarks psychologist and social worker Marleen Wong of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

An estimated one in eight children have experienced physical or sexual abuse, neglect, bullying and other types of maltreatment. More than one in three have witnessed violence or experienced it indirectly, such losing a parent to murder but not witnessing the crime. Children experiencing such traumas can develop PTSD or other mental disorders.

“In mental health as in education, trauma leaves children behind,” Wong says. Minority children’s regular exposure to violence in poor communities contributes to the academic achievement gap between black and white students, in her view.

Evidence indicates that individual and group cognitive-behavioral therapy reduces symptoms of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and related behavior problems in traumatized children and adolescents, the task force reports. Cognitive-behavioral techniques include discussing or writing about traumatic experiences, learning relaxation techniques and replacing paralyzing fears with more realistic assessments. Weekly sessions can extend over one to three months.

The review finds insufficient evidence to recommend any of five other treatment approaches — play therapy, art therapy, drug therapy, psychodynamic therapy or psychological debriefing. …

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Written by Leisureguy

23 August 2008 at 5:08 pm

Posted in Daily life, Mental Health, Science

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