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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Best for Traumatized Youths

But study also finds too many clinicians still using unproven treatments

MONDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- In children and teens, individual and group cognitive behavioral therapy helps reduce depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other trauma symptoms, say U.S. researchers who reviewed of dozens of studies on the subject.

However, despite the proven effectiveness of cognitive therapy, many mental health professionals use unproven treatments such as art, play or drug therapy to treat children with psychological trauma, said the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, a group of independent scientists partially funded by the U.S. government.

"The good news is there is substantial research showing the effectiveness of group or individual cognitive behavioral therapy in treating children and teens experiencing the psychological effects of trauma. We hope these findings will encourage clinicians to use the therapies that are shown to be effective," study co-author Robert Hahn, coordinating scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Community Guide Branch, said in an agency news release.

The study was published in the September issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Hahn and his colleagues recommended further research on other forms of therapy to determine whether they may help children with psychological trauma.

"Childhood trauma is a widespread problem with both short- and long-term consequences. Many kids with symptoms of trauma go undiagnosed, which can lead to unhealthy behaviors in adulthood, such as smoking, and alcohol or drug abuse," Hahn said.

"Individual screening to identify trauma symptoms in children can help these kids get the therapy they need and lessen the likelihood they will engage in these risky behaviors when they become adults," he noted.

More information

The National Alliance on Mental Illness has more about cognitive behavioral therapy.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, September 2008

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