Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Social Work

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Dr. Ginny Sprang

Second Advisor

Dr. Melanie D. Otis

Abstract

The purpose of this project is to examine how the factors of gender, placement status, type of treatment, the number of different types of trauma experienced, and a child’s age at the start of treatment may influence end of treatment symptom severity scores for children ages 2-12 years who received trauma-informed evidence-based treatment for trauma. Method: Caregivers and children receiving outpatient services (N=134) completed the Child Behavioral Checklist, Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children, and the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children-Alternate Version at baseline and end of treatment. Hypotheses were tested with a series of ANCOVA analyses, Independent t-Tests, and a Paired Samples t-Test. Results: While statistically significant improvements were found between baseline and termination outcome scores regardless of treatment type, TF-CBT was found to more successfully reduce externalizing and total problem scores at termination compared to PCIT. Despite the relatively young age of this sample, significant differences in externalizing and total problem scores on the CBCL were found for older children at the end of treatment. No significant differences were found between pre-and post-test internalizing and externalizing scale scores for either TF-CBT or PCIT. Additionally, examination of caregiver and child daily functioning scale scores indicated improved ratings of daily functioning from baseline to the end of treatment. Implications: Behavior problems stemming from traumatic exposure may resolve differently from behaviors that result from environmental factors apart from trauma. Trauma recovery is dependent upon successful matching of client characteristics and need to treatment type. Practitioners are encouraged to be mindful of the specialized needs of older children who are seeking treatment. Research that focuses on clarifying the factors that differentiate symptom resolution can inform treatment selection decisions. Social work educators are encouraged to design curriculum that is trauma-informed with an emphasis on helping students learn how to think critically about a child’s needs and to integrate this knowledge into treatment decisions. The development of policies that incentivize agencies to provide evidence-based care can increase the availability of research-supported care for trauma exposed youth.

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