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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Management in Children Proposal

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Updated: Jun 3rd, 2021


Exposure to traumatic events may cause irreparable damage to a child’s mental health unless attended to correctly, which suggests that the problem of post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) in young patients needs to be elaborated upon in greater detail. According to the statistical data, the cases of PTSD in children are disturbingly high (U.S. Department for Veteran Affairs, 2018). For instance, the National Center for PTSD warns that a substantial number of young children of both sexes experience a trauma that leads to mental health complications (Targum & Nemeroff, 2019). According to the National Center for PTSD,

Studies show that about 15% to 43% of girls and 14% to 43% of boys go through at least one trauma. Of those children and teens who have had a trauma, 3% to 15% of girls and 1% to 6% of boys develop PTSD. (U.S. Department for Veteran Affairs, 2018, para. 1)

Therefore, addressing the issue of PTSD in children is believed to be one of the key priorities in public health management presently. However, the opinions about the approaches that have to be used to examine the problem, determine the patient’s needs and locate the appropriate intervention tools vary (Scheepstra, van Steijn, Dijksman, & van Pampus, 2017). Presently, the choice of frameworks based on which interventions for children with PTSD is created is mostly restricted to the use of social and developmental psychology. The proposed frameworks can be seen as legitimate, yet they have their problems, the lack of the clinical perspective and the propensity to change in responses toward different social scenarios being the key ones (Targum & Nemeroff, 2019). Therefore, an improved approach to reducing and curing PTSD in children will be needed. The purpose of this paper is to determine whether the application of the perspective of clinical psychology as the platform for treating PTSD in children will have better effects than the adoption of the methods rooted in social and developmental psychology.

Literature Review


The phenomenon of PTSD itself currently requires further research due to differences in the definition thereof in recent studies. For example, PTSD has only recently gained the status of separate disorder in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (American Psychological Association, 2013). A recent study defines the phenomenon of PTSD as the “trauma- and stressor related disorder resulting from exposure to an event that is considered as traumatic” (Scheepstra et al., 2017, p. 1). According to the DSM V definition, the diagnosis of PTSD in children is based on the following criteria: exposure or witnessing of traumatic phenomena and having recurrent dreams linked to the traumatic experience (American Psychological Association, 2013). Showing dissociative reactions to key triggers, avoidance of such stimuli, cognitive and mood-related issues, and prolonged duration of disturbance are also essential criteria for PTSD (American Psychological Association, 2013). While the symptoms of the phenomenon may vary depending on the patient’s health status and other personal characteristics, as well as the coping mechanisms that they develop, the described criteria are the primary indicators of the problem.

Effects of PTSD on Young Patients

Resulting from a vastly traumatic experience, PTSD in children manifests itself in severe anxiety and aggravation of mental health issues with exposure to triggering factors. For example, recent research points to the possibility of mental disorders emerging in adulthood for children suffering from PTSD (Targum & Nemeroff, 2019). The propensity toward emotional numbness as the key coping mechanism is also widespread in children with PTSD (Coifman et al., 2019). Since the described response is very unhealthy and likely to lead to the aggravation of the problem, a clinical strategy for managing the disorder combined with psychological and developmental perspectives will have to be utilized to provide the grounds for recovery.

Social Psychology and PTSD

The application of strategies based on social psychology when addressing the problem of PTSD in children suggests mostly the provision of social support. Specifically, Coifman et al. (2019) explain that the adoption of the approaches such as the development of emotional working memory is based on the use of social psychology in PTSD. The introduction of the developmental perspective leads to the creation of approaches that encourage a more accurate measurement of PTSD progress based on the model fit (Coifman et al., 2019). However, the social dimension allows for locating short- and long-term changes in children’s well-being and behaviors.

Developmental Psychology and PTSD

The developmental perspective implies considering childhood PTSD as a trauma that occurred due to developmental issues and the influences that may have impeded a child’s psychological growth. Specifically, Danzi and Greca (2017) state that the incorporation of the developmental approach invites the opportunity to prevent functional impairment earlier. However, the proposed framework also fails to focus on several facets of a child’s functioning and the symptoms that they show (Targum & Nemeroff, 2019). Therefore, the incorporation of a different perspective that could embrace every single facet of a child’s response to trauma is needed.

Clinical Psychology and PTSD

The perspective of clinical psychology on the subject matter, in turn, suggests that the problem is considered from different facets. The clinical psychology approach toward addressing the health concerns of young patients with PTSD allows inferring the causes of the PTSD phenomenon and developing a comprehensive treatment model that would encompass social, psychological, and developmental issues. Rooted in the EBP principles, the clinical perspective will invite opportunities for a personalized approach to each patient and consider the tools that could be utilized to assist a patient.

It is also noteworthy that some of the most recent studies suggest combining each of the three approaches toward managing the needs of children with PTSD to reduce the extent of the adverse effects that the disorder produces. Known as the bio-psycho-social model, the framework can be seen as a fairly innovative tool for addressing the distress that young patients with PTSD experience. Due to the combination of the three perspectives, the bio-psycho-social strategy invites the opportunity to incorporate clinical and psychological interventions along with extensive support from family members and peers (Kent, Rivers, & Wrenn, 2015). However, the enhancement of the role of the clinical perspective requires a more detailed focus due to the importance of early prevention and control over the treatment process, which the clinical framework provides.



Approaching the issue of PTSD management in children will require a profound analysis of the problem. Since the superiority of the clinical framework compared to the developmental and psychological strategies needs to be proven, quasi-experimental research based on the quantitative research method will be required. An ANOVA analysis involving a comparison between the outcomes in different groups in which treatment procedures are based on different types of psychology approaches will be used. Thus, the differences in variances and, ultimately, the efficacy of each framework on the management of PTSD in children will be identified to determine whether the clinical psychology approach leads to better results than more common techniques.


The research will be performed in a local healthcare facility. Children that have experienced PTSD will be recruited for the research. To accomplish the described goal, one will need the informed consent of their parents or legal guardians. Letters of informed consent will be sent for signing to a total of 200 parents whose children will be selected for the study. The sample size will be represented by 132 participants given the fact that the confidence level for the analysis is currently 95%. The age of the participants (10-16) and the presence of PTSD in the target demographic will be the key inclusion criteria.


In the course of the research, the data will be collected based on the changes in patients’ health records. The pre-test and post-test data collection will serve as the foundation for the following analysis of the changes that are expected to be observed after the implementation of the three proposed approaches to managing PTSD in children. The data will be retrieved by including the responses provided by the participants before and after the intervention with the help of the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (Mischel et al., 2019). The proposed tool is expected to serve as the basis for gauging the extent to which patients have been responding to trauma-related factors and the pace of their recovery.

Data Analysis

The information will be analyzed with the help of the one-way ANOVA test. The identified tool will help to determine the effects that different independent variables, specifically, the suggested approaches toward the treatment process, have on the well-being of children and their ability to overcome their childhood trauma (Scheepstra et al., 2017). Therefore, the assessment of the information to be acquired in the course of the research will be performed in a manner as accurate and comprehensive as possible.

As emphasized above, it will be indispensable for the research results to be credible and ethical, participants’ parents or legal guardians will need to sign informed consent papers. Thus, the key ethical concern of consent will be addressed. In addition, it will be necessary to ensure that patients will be provided with the maximum safety during the experiment and that their personal data will remain secure. The specified measures will help to keep the research ethical and treat participants with respect and dignity.


The management of PTSD in children remains a problematic issue in modern healthcare. Due to the lack of a clinical perspective in the management of patients’ needs, the opportunity for introducing an all-encompassing approach toward handling the instances of PTSD in children is missed. Therefore, effects of incorporating the clinical perspective into the current framework for addressing the health concerns faced by children with PTSD is needed. By conducting the analysis of the effects that each of the existing approaches, including the clinical one, produces on the target population, one will be able to create the strategy that will be most beneficial to patients. As a result, the problem of PTSD in children and the following development of mental health issues in the specified demographic as they grow older will be managed. A follow-up study may address the issue in question may be needed to locate further directions in the choice of clinical psychology as the tool for managing PTSD in young patients.


Coifman, K. G., Kane, M. J., Bishop, M., Matt, L. M., Nylocks, K. M., & Aurora, P. (2019). Predicting negative affect variability and spontaneous emotion regulation: Can working memory span tasks estimate emotion regulatory capacity? Emotion. Advance online publication. Web.

Danzi, B. A., & Greca, A. M. L. (2017). Optimizing clinical thresholds for PTSD: Extending the DSM-5 preschool criteria to school-age children. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 17(3), 234–241. Web.

Kent, M., Rivers, C., & Wrenn, G. (2015). Goal-Directed Resilience in Training (GRIT): A biopsychosocial model of self-regulation, executive functions, and personal growth (eudaimonia) in evocative contexts of PTSD, obesity, and chronic pain. Behavioral Sciences, 5(2), 264-304. Web.

Mischel, E. R., Bynion, T. M., Leen-Feldner, E. W., & Feldner, M. T. (2019). An evaluation of the validity of a script-driven imagery procedure among traumatic event–exposed adolescents. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance online publication. Web.

Scheepstra, K. W. F., van Steijn, M. E., Dijksman, L. M., & van Pampus, M. G. (2017). Post-traumatic stress disorder in women and their partners, following severe post-partum hemorrhage: A study protocol for a prospective cohort study. Cogent Medicine, 4(1), 1-12. Web.

Targum, S. D., & Nemeroff, C. B. (2019). The effect of early life stress on adult psychiatric disorders. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, 16(1-2), 35-37.

U.S. Department for Veteran Affairs. (2018). Web.

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