More Study Needed to Help Kids Cope with Trauma

Far more data is needed on how best to help children cope with traumatic events–ranging from natural disasters to school shootings to death or family illness–researchers argue in an article published in the journal Pediatrics.  From NBC News:

Grief counselors, therapists and social workers have no body of scientific data to draw from when they seek to help traumatized kids, a team of experts reports in Monday’s issue of the journal Pediatrics.

“People come to me and say ‘What works?’ and I answer, ‘We don’t really know,’” says Valerie Forman-Hoffman of RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C., who led the study.

“I don’t think that what this study is saying is that no treatment works,” Forman-Hoffman said in a telephone interview. ”I think that what our review shows is that we don’t have a good evidence base to make good recommendations.”

The need is clear, Forman-Hoffman and her colleagues say.

“Approximately two-thirds of children and adolescents younger than age 18 years will experience at least one traumatic event, creating a critical need to identify effective child trauma interventions,” they wrote. Traumatic events in this study included the death of a parent, a violent incident at school, wars, or natural disasters. They did not include personal events such as abuse by a parent or sexual abuse.

“Although some children exposed to trauma do not experience long-term negative consequences in terms of psychological and social functioning, many later develop traumatic stress syndromes, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD),”  they added. PTSD in turn can cause depression, and lead to substance abuse, suicide and behavior disorders.

Image: Girl with grief counselor, via Shutterstock

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  1. by Cherie Spehar., LCSW, CTC-S, RPT-S

    On February 12, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    As a Certified Trauma Specialist/Consultant-Supervisor and a close partner with The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children, I would like to point out that there ARE research proven and SAMHSA accredited treatment approaches that effectively help children with trauma. The entire practice approach falls under the term Trauma-Informed Care, and these are, in fact, treatments that work. TLC’s research proven method is listed in the following link, and in my own work it has helped hundreds of children and adults heal from all types of developmental and situational traumas with outstanding results in shorter amounts of time. More study will always be needed, but it is important to know that we currently have treatments available that DO work, and are proven. Here is the link:


    On February 14, 2013 at 4:54 pm


    I am appalled that you could produce such an article with such inaccurate information around trauma informed care. I am a clinical social worker also trauma informed-working only with traumatized children everyday. Sadly you lack the knowledge around the many brilliant doctors, social workers and many others that have been spent the last 20 plus years illumating the integrated approaches with neuroscience and psychotherapy. The approaches are all evidence based interventions with wonderful outcomes. Our profession is filled with brilliant researchers that have done just that-proven interventions to help millions of children nationally and internationally. Please let me know if you need a list of resources for your reference.