New Treatment for Child Abuse Reduces PTSD
New York Nonprofit Press April 9, 2012
The Yale Childhood Violent Trauma Center and Safe Horizon have released the results of a four-year pilot program to treat children who have experienced severe sexual or physical abuse. The program – the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI) – has been implemented in four Safe Horizon Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) since 2008 and has now been shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention is a four-to-six session, family strengthening, evidence-based early intervention for children seven to 18 years old who have either recently experienced or recently disclosed a traumatic event. The intervention was developed by clinicians at the Yale Childhood Violent Trauma Center (CVTC), a program of the Yale Child Study Center. Safe Horizon and the CVTC began partnering in 2007 to determine how the CFTSI would work in a large, urban environment. In a randomized control study conducted by the CVTC, children who received CFTSI were 65% less likely than comparison youth to meet criteria for full Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at the three month follow-up and were 73% less likely than comparison youth to meet combined criteria for partial and full PTSD at the three month follow-up.
The partnership has been enormously successful and resulted in overwhelmingly positive outcomes for children and families who have received CFTSI in the CAC setting. To date, nearly 500 children have participated in CFTSI at Safe Horizon CACs. The results these children and their caregivers report mirror those found in the previous evaluations of CFTSI. In a review of data from 124 children who completed CFTSI at Safe Horizon CACs between April 2010 and March 2011, there was a 54% decrease in children’s trauma symptoms at the end of the intervention, alongside an increase in symptom recognition and communication between children and caregivers. Finally, caregivers have reported almost universally that they learned skills to help their child feel better and decrease the frequency of trauma reactions exhibited by their child.
The results were released as part of a forum, “Hope and Healing for Child Abuse Victims,” organized by Safe Horizon and the Yale Childhood Violent Trauma Center, at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space. National experts in childhood trauma, Dr. Steven Marans, Dr. Frank Putnam, and Teresa Huizar participated in the forum, which was attended by city officials, health care providers, social workers and others active in addressing the problem of child abuse.
“The Yale/Safe Horizon partnership has created a model that can significantly change how abused children are treated throughout the United States,” said Dr. Steven Marans, Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and Director of the Yale Childhood Violent Trauma Center.
“The Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention model is evidence-based, and builds on each family’s strengths,” said Ariel Zwang, the Chief Executive Officer of Safe Horizon. “It helps child victims and their parents to communicate better, which eases the trauma for both. Safe Horizon and the Yale Child Study Center have worked together to adapt this treatment to meet the individual needs of the families at our CACs, who may be facing homelessness, court involvement, foster care placement, and the need for medical care, in addition to the trauma of abuse. We are grateful to the Yale Child Study Center for their strong collaboration with us, and look forward to working with Dr. Marans and the Yale team to make this powerful intervention available to many more child abuse victims in the coming years.”