Post-Traumatic Syndromes in Childhood and Adolescence: A Handbook of Research and Practice

By Vittoria Ardino | Go to book overview

Chapter Seventeen
Recent Advances in
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for
Traumatized Children and Teenagers

Dirk Flower and Stefania Grbcic


Introduction

Cognitive-behavioral treatments have been the preferred choice for most PTSD cases; numerous studies have confirmed the effectiveness of this treatment for PTSD in children and young people (Cohen & Mannarino, 2008; Scheeringa et al., 2007; Smith et al., 2007). Cognitive Therapy (CT), developed in the 1960s, is a structured, short-term, present-oriented therapy, directed toward solving current difficulties and modifying dysfunctional thinking and behavior (Beck, 1995). The central principle is that cognitions, emotions, and behaviors are linked by an adaptive or maladaptive “schema” (Beck et al., 1979). Schemas are learned as a way of adapting to developmental demands and experiences and incorporate basic beliefs and attitudes (Beck, 1995). Core schemas are identified by looking at cognitions (the use of imagery and reawakening of past negative experiences can activate core schemas).

Various maladaptive schemas and their combinations contribute to the formation of particular problem behaviors. Within each problem situation, a consistent pattern of certain beliefs and strategies predominate and form maladaptive over- and underdeveloped strategies for interpreting the world.

For dealing with problem behaviors, schematic change is undertaken using reconstruction, modification or reinterpretation of the schema of the individual or family system. By changing schemas and behaviors, individuals can break away from self-defeating feelings and actions (Beck, 1970). This is based on

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