Towards a cognitive-behavioral model of PTSD in children and adolescents

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Posttraumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents has been studied only for the past 15-20 years and is the subject of a burgeoning corpus of research. Much research has focused on examining whether children and adolescents have the same responses to trauma as those experienced by adults. Many of the research tools used to investigate children's responses are taken from measures designed for use with adults, and these measures have proven to be useful. However, it has not been established that children's responses to traumatic events are related to the same underlying processes as are adults' responses. The possible application of 2 recent cognitive models of PTSD in adults to understanding PTSD in children and adolescents is discussed in this paper, within the context of what is already known about children's reaction to trauma and existing theoretical accounts of childhood PTSD. Particular attention is paid toward the nature of children's memories of traumatic events and how these memories relate to the reexperiencing symptoms of PTSD, and cognitive processes that may play a role in the maintenance of PTSD. It is proposed that the adoption of a more specific cognitive-behavioral framework in the study of this disorder may be beneficial and lead to better treatment outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-232
Number of pages16
JournalClinical Child and Family Psychology Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2002

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