Unproven therapies used on traumatized kids
September 22, 2008
Reuters reported on September 9, 2008 on a CDC report which will appear in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that a lot of therapies provided to kids with PTSD are not proven. Here is a snippet from the article:
Many doctors and therapists use unproven approaches such as drugs, art or play therapy on children suffering trauma when old-fashioned talk therapy has been shown to work, a report released on Tuesday said.
A review of a dozen different studies showed no evidence that alternative therapies helped children traumatized by violence or abuse, even though more than 75 percent of U.S. mental health professionals who treat children and teens with post traumatic stress disorder may use them.
But cognitive therapy -- a type of talk therapy aimed at changing negative thoughts -- does work, the group at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
"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," the CDC's Robert Hahn, who led the study, said in a statement.
"We hope these findings will encourage clinicians to use the therapies that are shown to be effective."
Children can be traumatized by many things including physical or sexual abuse, witnessing domestic violence, community violence or natural disasters.
In my office, I use cognitive based therapy and, when relevant, include parents and/or caretakers in on the sessions. I find that children and adolescents usually do very well. I am chagrined to hear about the play therapies, sand tables, EMDR, and other things my colleagues are doing with kids which they usually learned at some workshop and now have become born again disciples of the technique. I have often wondered, as the research report above suggests, why they didn't take a workshop and learn how to do therapy that works instead of the latest fad? Like many things in life we are enamored with the new, the novel, the gimicky approach which promises quick and almost miraculous success.
I find it increasingly difficult to find good therapists to refer people to. The mananged care system and the atrophy of the community mental health centers have made it difficult for young therapists to find adequate training environments.
MedlinePlus: Unproven therapies used on traumatized kids -study.