Research Proposal: Children With PTSD and Social Workers

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[. . .] Diagnosis and Treatment


The DSM-5 criteria set for PTSD in children older than 6 and those younger than 6 are similar (Lubit, 2014). This is exposure to a real, actual or threatened death, injury or sexual attack. There should be one or more symptoms linked to the traumatic event or experience. These must be persistent avoidance of the stimulus connected with the event or disturbed perception of it as well as the mood linked to the event. There should also be strong changes in arousal and reaction to the event. The disturbance should be more than a month. There should also be great mental suffering or disturbed relationship with family members, caregivers or changed behavior in school. The victim should demonstrate an inability to connect the disturbance to any physical effect of a substance taken or a medical condition (Lubit).

No specific laboratory or imaging studies are used in diagnosing PTSD but certain psychological tests have helped establish it (Lubit, 2014). These are the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment: Life Events Section and PTSD Module or CAPA-STD; Children's PTSD Inventory or CPTSDI; Child PTSD Symptom Scale; Abbreviated UCLA PTSD Reaction Index; Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC); Impact of Events Scale Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders (SCARED); Beck Depression Inventory; and the Mississippi Scale for Combat-Related PTSD (Lubit).

Treatment Goals and Forms

In the overall, treatment aims at providing the suffering child with a safe environment and to attend to his or her pressing medical conditions (Lubit, 2014). It will be psychological, non-pharmacological and pharmacological combined support. Psychological therapy includes helping him regain mastery over his traumatic experience with an end-view of re-establishing a sense of safety. It also aims at eliminating the shame associated with the symptoms and addressing other ensuing emotional and behavioral problems. This is the task of the social worker. Non-phamacological regimen can be in the form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, and play therapy. The most effective cognitive-behavioral therapy has been the trauma-focused CBT. Relaxation techniques include biofeedback, yoga, deep relaxation, self-hypnosis, medication and self-efficacy. Pharmacological treatment may include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for anxiety, depression, avoidance behavior and intrusive recollection. These medications are, however, not allowed for pediatric patients. Other pharmacological support can be provided with beta blockers, alpha-adrenergic agonists, mood stabilizers, and, at infrequent times, atypical antipsychotics (Lubit).

Early intervention is certainly the first option when the trauma has already occurred (AACAP 2013, PTSD 2014, Lubit 2014). Parents, school and peers must extend support. There must be a comprehensive effort at re-establishing a sense of safety in the victim. The social worker is a main healthcare figure in this task. She may help provide psychotherapy for the child, his family or his group. It should help the child verbalize, sketch, play or write about the trauma as part of therapy and healing. Behavior modification techniques and cognitive therapy can also help lessen or eliminate the child's fears and insecurities, which he cannot handle. And when needed, medication should be administered to control agitation, anxiety, depression or sleep disorders. Child psychiatrists and social workers will be most helpful in detecting and treating PTSD in children. If his family and these professionals show enough sensitiveness and support, the child can learn to cope with the memory of the trauma and lead a healthy and useful life (AACAP, Lubit, PTSD). #


AACAP (2013). Posttraumatic stress disorder. Number 70, Facts for Families"

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Lubit, R.H. (2014). Posttraumatic stress disorder in children. Medscape: WebMD. LLC.

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Nauert, R. (2007). Social workers at rsk for PTSD. Psych Central: University of Georgia.

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PTSD (2014). PTSD in children and teens. National Center for PTSD: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved on October 12, 2014 from

University of Georgia (2007). Social workers may… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Children With PTSD and Social Workers.  (2014, October 13).  Retrieved October 15, 2019, from

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"Children With PTSD and Social Workers."  October 13, 2014.  Accessed October 15, 2019.