For children and adolescents, psychological harm of traumatic events reduced by CBT

In a review in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, it was noted that children and adolescents who experience psychological harm caused by traumatic events are often treated by practitioners who are not aware of, and do not employ, treatments that are “based on the best available evidence.”

Meta-analyses were conducted on interventions that included cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in individual and group settings, play therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and others.

The traumas themselves covered a wide range and included sexual abuse, domestic violence, serious illness, and natural disasters. The CBT methods included exposure techniques, modification of inaccurate cognitions, reframing counterproductive cognitions regarding the trauma, and others.

Based on their analyses, the review authors concluded there was “strong evidence … that individual and group CBT can decrease psychological harm among symptomatic children and adolescents exposed to trauma.”

Review authors: H. R. Wethington, R. A. Hahn, D. S. Fuqua-Whitley, et al.

UK national guidelines emphasize CBT for children and adolescents

A recent article in Current Opinion in Psychiatry summarized the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) clinical guidelines and reviews of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for children and adolescents with mental health problems.

NICE is the UK’s independent organization responsible for providing national guidance on the “promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health.”

For the treatment of depression in children and young people, NICE guidelines recommended “that pharmacological approaches should not be the first-line approach to the treatment of depression in this age group.” It recommended instead “the initial use of psychosocial interventions, including CBT, for all severities of depression.”

Meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials suggested the importance of CBT for children and adolescents with generalized anxiety disorder, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. More limited evidence suggested CBT’s benefit in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and others conditions.

The authors noted that CBT for these populations “should be extended by further primary and secondary research.”

Review authors: A. Munoz-Solomando, T. Kendall, C. J. Whittington

Award to Aaron T. Beck, M.D., for contributions to public understanding of psychology

At the American Psychological Association’s 2008 annual convention in Boston, Aaron T. Beck, M.D., received a presidential award for distinguished lifetime contributions to the public understanding of psychology.