Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for children and adolescents with posttraumatic stress disorder after a single-incident stressor

John S. March, Lisa Amaya-Jackson, Mary Cathryn Murray, Ann Schulte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

242 Scopus citations


Objective: To test the efficacy of a group-administered cognitive- behavioral psychotherapy (CBT) protocol for pediatric posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a single-incident stressor. Method: After a school- wide selection-to-treatment procedure conducted in two elementary and two junior high schools, children and adolescents with DSM-IV PTSD by structured interview were entered into an 18-week, group-administered CBT protocol using a single case across time and setting experimental design. Assessments of PTSD, anxiety, depression, trait anger, locus of control, and disruptive behavior were conducted at baseline, posttreatment, and at 6-month follow- up. Results: Experimental control across time (staggered start date) and setting (school and age) was demonstrated. Fourteen of 17 subjects completed treatment. Of these, 8 (57%) no longer met DSM-IV criteria for PTSD immediately after treatment; 12 (86%) of 14 were free of PTSD at 6-month follow-up. On intent-to-treat analyses, treatment produced a robust beneficial effect posttreatment on the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale- Child and Adolescent Version, with additional improvement accruing at follow- up (p < .001). improvements of a similar magnitude were seen for depression (p < .001), anxiety (p < .001), and anger (p < .005). Locus of control remained external from pre- to posttreatment but became strongly Internal at follow-up (p < .001). Conclusion: More clinical trials are required to confirm that CBT is a safe, acceptable, and effective treatment for PTSD in children and adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-593
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Assessment
  • Behavior therapy
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Grief
  • Locus of control
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • School treatment
  • Single- case design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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