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Minerva Pediatrica 2011 June;63(3):201-15


language: English

Early preventive interventions for adolescents exposed to a potentially traumatic event

Berkowitz S. J. 1, 2, Watson P. J. 3, Brymer M. J. 3, 4

1 Department of Clinical Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine Philadelphia, PA, USA; 2 Yale University Child Study Center, New Haven, CT, USA; 3 National Center for Child Traumatic Stress and the National Center for PTSD, Washington, DC, USA; 4 Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA


The development and evaluation of early preventative interventions for individuals exposed to a potentially traumatic event (PTE) have been increasing in number and sophistication over the last decade. Evaluation of early interventions for individuals who are symptomatic several weeks after exposure to a PTE have been effective in preventing the development of chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, there has been little research demonstrating effectiveness of immediate interventions. In addition, there are not specific early interventions targeted toward the adolescent age group. While providers of early interventions should initiate contact with the family as whole, they may need to decide whether to employ a model that was developed for both children and adolescents or for adults depending on the particular needs of the adolescent. This review will examine a range of issues regarding the meaning, timing and effectiveness of early interventions after a PTE and will cover models for all age groups as well as models designed for immediate crisis intervention as well as for those individuals who are symptomatic and distressed in the early post-traumatic period. The rapid growth in the formulation and research of early intervention models and the success of certain models in the prevention of chronic PTSD are promising developments for establishing an evidence base of cost effective preventative early interventions.

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