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A Multisite Randomized Trial for Children With Sexual Abuse-Related PTSD Symptoms

NCJ Number
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Volume: 43 Issue: 4 Dated: 2010 Pages: 393-402
Judith A. Cohen; Esther Deblinger; Anthony P. Mannarino; Robert A. Steer
Date Published
10 pages

This paper assesses the effectiveness of trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy as treatment for children who have suffered from child sexual abuse as well as other traumas.


The authors’ objectives for this report were to examine the differential efficacy of trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) and child-centered therapy for treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related emotional and behavioral problems in children who have suffered sexual abuse. A total of 229 participants included eight- to 14-year-old children and their primary caretakers; they were randomly assigned to the above alternative treatments. The children had significant PTSD symptoms, with 89 percent meeting full DSM-IV PTSD diagnostic criteria, and more than 90 percent of the children had experienced traumatic events in addition to sexual abuse. A series of analyses of covariance indicated that children assigned to TF-CBT, compared to those assigned to child-centered therapy, demonstrated significantly more improvement with regard to PTSD, depression, behavior problems, shame, and abuse-related attributions. Similarly, parents assigned to TF-CBT showed greater improvement with respect to their own self-reported levels of depression, abuse-specific distress, support of the child, and effective parenting practices. The authors conclude that this study adds to the growing evidence that supports the efficacy of TF-CBT with children who suffer from PTSD as a result of sexual abuse and demonstrates the efficacy of this treatment for children who have experienced multiple traumas. Publisher Abstract Provided