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Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI)

  • Summary

    Exposure to trauma and abuse in childhood can produce psychological effects that may in turn lead to chronic difficulties. In the short-term, research indicates that up to 63% of children and young people who have experienced abuse will go on to develop PTSD (Gabby et al. 2004). In the long-term, such adverse experiences significantly increase the risk of developing psychiatric disorders and/or physical health problems, such as myocardial infarction and coronary heart disease (Felitti et al., 1998). Following exposure to potentially traumatic events, children may hide their traumatic reactions from their caregivers to try to protect them from getting upset. This means that caregivers may not be aware of the level of distress being experienced by their children. Furthermore, caregivers may misunderstand some of their children’s reactions; e.g. they may think a child is being willfully aggressive, when in fact their behaviour is a result of anxious hyperarousal.

    For these reasons, the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI) was developed to improve communication between children who have experienced potentially traumatic events and their non-offending caregivers. The intervention also focuses on increasing family support for the child and on providing the skills to help the children and their families cope and overcome trauma reactions.

    The CFTSI was developed and tested in the U.S. by Yale University, who found in a randomised controlled trial that it reduced the occurrence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The aim of this pilot study is to determine its effectiveness for children and young people in the UK.

    The CFTSI will be offered to children and young people aged 7-17 who are showing at least one traumatic reaction since having experienced trauma in the previous 45 days. Evaluations of the CFTSI will assess changes in Post-Traumatic Stress symptoms and in the number of children who go on to develop diagnoses of PTSD following intervention. Follow-up interviews will be carried out 3 months after the interventions are completed to gain an understanding of young peoples’ experiences of the intervention.

  • Project team

    Research project team:

    David Trickey, Michelle Sleed, Cristina Catania

    Clinical team:

    Sheila Redfern, Katherine Mautner, Joanne Jackson

  • Publications

    Berkowitz, S. J., Stover, C. S., & Marans, S. R. (2011). The child and family traumatic stress intervention: Secondary prevention for youth at risk of developing PTSD. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry52(6), 676-685.

    Hahn, H., Oransky, M., Epstein, C., Stover, C. S., & Marans, S. (2016). Findings of an Early Intervention to Address Children’s Traumatic Stress Implemented in the Child Advocacy Center Setting Following Sexual Abuse. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma9(1), 55-66.