Treatment Trajectories of Preschoolers with Severe Trauma Exposure
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Children who have experienced severe trauma during early development are at increased risk for a variety of mental and behavioral health symptoms. Early intervention is commonly recommended to support healing, yet little is known about the effectiveness of early intervention efforts in community settings or the extent to which treatment may differentially affect children’s problem areas or children’s strengths. The present study evaluates the progress of children with exposure to early-life trauma over a 6-month treatment period at a therapeutic preschool. Participating children were 23 trauma-exposed preschoolers enrolled in a therapeutic preschool to address severe behaviors and mental health problems, many of which may have been trauma-related. Children’s behaviors and symptoms were reported by their therapists and observed by a psychologist at three time points: 30 days post-intake, 3 months post-intake, and 6 months post-intake. The purpose of this evaluation was to describe children’s functioning at baseline and to evaluate children’s symptom change across a variety of outcome areas, including problem and strength areas. Findings indicate that although children at the therapeutic preschool present at intake with significant externalizing symptoms and maintain them over the first 6 months of treatment, children also enter treatment with protective factors and build upon these protective factors over the same 6 months. Findings underscore the importance of assessing both problem and strength areas with trauma-exposed preschoolers to present a full picture of children’s outcomes. In addition, implications for the process of collaboration with clinical staff regarding effective evaluation methods at the preschool are discussed.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Literature review -- Methodology -- Results -- Discussion -- Appendix
M.A. (Master of Arts)